More Asian-American candidates are running for national office in the upcoming midterm elections than ever before in history, according to recent figures from APAICS -- The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies -- but challenges remain in engaging and mobilizing Asian-American voters to register and to vote.
The November election will include 22 Asian-American congressional candidates in 12 different states and territories; 39 ran in the primaries. In the 2008 elections, only 13 Asian-American candidates ran for Congress.
Asian American/Pacific Islanders constitute the fastest-growing racial group in the country, and voter rolls have grown to reflect that trend in key states like Florida and Virginia. But community leaders say voter registration still remains one of the biggest hurdles to mobilizing Asian Americans to the polls. A recent Rock the Vote campaign specifically targeted Asian America, noting the community has one of the lowest voter turn out rates in the country.
APAICS leaders say representation of Asian Americans is crucial to encouraging engagement and participation, and point out that only 14 of the 485 federal legislature members are Asian American/Pacific Islander. APAICS President Floyd Mori says the this year's growth in candidates reflects a willingness in the community to "step up to the plate instead of staying on the sidelines."
"The vital step for all of us," said Mori in a statement, "is to register as a voter and to vote on November 4."