The 2016 election season is coming down to the wire on both national and local elections. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) and Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), two organizations that are committed to the cause of voter protection and education, are hosting an in-language hotline for Asian American voters.
From now until Election Day on November 8th, volunteers will be available in eight languages – English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, and Tagalog – to help those with questions about voting, how to find a polling place, or to learn about any ID requirements.
Voters can seek answers to their questions through the Advancing Justice | AAJC and APIAVote hotline, 1-888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683). Learn more at http://www.apiavote.org/hotline.
“Every eligible voter in the United States should be able to cast a ballot and participate in our democracy,” said Mee Moua, executive director and president of Advancing Justice | AAJC. “Ensuring that all voters know their rights at the polls is critical to their participation this November. As Asian Americans continue to grow in population, and turn out to vote, we must do everything we can to support their participation and make visible their political impact.”
Although officials in numerous states have proposed measures that would increase the efficiency and inclusiveness of voting procedures, introducing measures such as automatic voter registration, others have regressed in the voting process. New voting restrictions in 14 states have had a significant impact on minority voters. Courts have successfully struck down some of these regulations, but the threat to equal access to the ballot box remains.
Given that this year’s election will be the first without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, it’s essential that voters who have historically faced discrimination at the polls can fulfill their civic duty with in-language assistance or help at the polls and without fear of intimidation.
“As we head into to the first presidential election since 1965 without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, the 888-API-VOTE hotline is even more critical to protect and serve our electorate,” said Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote). “This election hotline not only provides AAPI voters essential in-language assistance, but it also ensures that all voters, regardless of proficiency in English, will have equitable access to the ballot box.”
APIAVote has also launched in-language resources, including in-language voting information online in Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese and other resources. Five voting rights videos have been also created in these languages, as well as English to highlight various scenarios voters may face at the polls—and their rights in these situations.
Based on polling information the groups cited that turnout of limited English proficient voters in 2012 was 9 percent lower than English proficient voters. Asian Americans can face a number of barriers contributing to lower levels of civic engagement in our community. These challenges include lack of access to voter resources, discriminatory voting laws and practices, language barriers, and unfamiliarity with the voting process and political candidates.
The groups’ voter education and protection efforts across the country are helping to amplify this hotline and to ensure equity for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at the ballot box.