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New Super PAC Launches, Aims to Increase Asian-American Votes

The AAPI Victory Fund announced its launch Thursday morning at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., becoming the first Super PAC specifically targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The Fund plans to target battleground states where the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) eligible votes exceed the margin of victory in the presidential race, according to the Super PAC's website.

The website also notes that voter registration and turnout in the AAPI community has been lower than national averages, with AAPI voter registration more than 10 percent below the national average. Weak voter registration is compounded by turnout, with more than a third of registered AAPI voters absent from the ballot box.

The AAPI Victory Fund hopes to change the historically anemic AAPI voting numbers by focusing on registration, persuasion, and turnout. Its goals, leaders say, is to target battleground states and to increase unregistered AAPI voters by 8 percent, AAPI voter turnout by 5 percent, and Democratic performance of AAPI voters by 3.5 percent.

"It's time for AAPIs to expect a seat at the table," Shekar Narasimhan, chair of the AAPI Victory Fund, said at the launch. "As a community, AAPIs have the numbers and financial, technological, and intellectual resources to be an undeniable political force in 2016 and beyond."

Though not formally affiliated with a party, the Fund leans toward progressive candidates. "The community at large is solidifying its position with Democrats and we hope they see differences between candidates and support candidates that most align with their views," Varun Nikore, vice chairman of strategy and operations for the Fund, told NBC News.

Led by Narasimhan and vice chairmen Dilawar Syed and Bel Leong-Hong, who also co-founded the fund, the AAPI Victory Fund's official launch Thursday was attended by Norman Y. Mineta, former Secretary of Transportation and Commerce, who will serve as Honorary Chair.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and current Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu also spoke at the launch.

"Asian-American immigrants have among the highest rates of naturalization in the U.S. at 59 percent compared to 47 percent among all immigrants," Lu said. "The Victory Fund's work to increase civic engagement within the AAPI community underscores the strong impact that new Americans and those eligible for citizenship will have in the upcoming election."

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Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu's title.