AALDEF Seeks Volunteers to Monitor Elections


AALDEF is looking for volunteers in California to monitor the November 8 elections to help ensure compliance with the federal Voting rights Act and to document instances of anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement.

In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote.  For example, poll workers were hostile and made racist remarks, poll sites had too few interpreters to assist Asian American voters, translated voting materials were missing or hidden from voters, and ballots were mistranslated listing Democratic candidates as Republicans, and vice versa. When the news media reported on election results and the vote by specific groups, Asian Americans were often overlooked.

On November 8, 2016, AALDEF, along with other Asian American groups and bar associations, will be monitoring the elections and conducting non-partisan voter surveys at poll sites in Asian American neighborhoods.

Advance registration required. Sign up at http://www.aaldef.net.

Polling sites in California include San Diego and San Jose.

Training Sessions:

Wednesday, October 5, 12:00 PM
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, 12730 High Bluff Dr, Ste 400, San Diego*

Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 PM
National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Mabuhay Room, 1603 Hoover Ave, National City*

Thursday, October 6, 3:30 PM
Asian Law Alliance, De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, 3:30 PM

*Light lunch/dinner will be provided

Attendance at one training session is required for all volunteers.All volunteers must be non-partisan and work a 3-hour shift. (CLE trainings are 90 minutes. Attorneys can receive 1.5 CLE credits including 0.5 ethics credit.)

For more information, contact AALDEF Staff Attorney Jerry Vattamala or Voting Rights Organizer Iris Zalun at 800-966-5946 or votingrights@aaldef.org.

Historic Quad-Partisan Presidential Election Forum Highlights Rising Influence of AAPI Vote

Bill Clinton, Sean Reyes, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein Aim to Win Votes From Fastest Growing Racial Group

LAS VEGAS – On Friday, Hillary Clinton surrogate and former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump surrogate and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein addressed more than 2,500 journalists and community leaders in the largest gathering of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the history of presidential campaign cycles.  

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), with 40 partner organizations, hosted this historic Presidential Election Forum in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, an election battleground state where nearly one in ten residents is AAPI.

“From Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent to Native Hawaiians, the AAPI community represents a heritage and history that spans the globe,” said APIAVote founding board member Daphne Kwok. “A recognition that this community is the lifeblood of our nation was cemented this week, as top campaign officials not only defined what AAPI meant to them personally, but also advanced discussions around how policies proposals from immigration and education to national security and trade are being focused on to empower the collective prospects of AAPIs across the country.”

During the forum, Rock the Vote announced its “Power Up” campaign, in partnership with APIAVote and youth organizations, focused on getting young AAPIs to vote. Congressman Mike Honda stated that 7,000 17-year-olds turn 18 every day. He also emphasized the power of AAPI voters to determine winners, particularly in six swing states and 85 congressional districts that are 10 percent AAPI.

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to grow from 20 million to more than 50 million by 2060. The rising influence of the AAPI community is evident in the past two election cycles, where the AAPI vote has been an important factor in election outcomes in key battleground states. In many of these states, the AAPI voter population either equaled or exceeded the margin of victory in previous presidential elections.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), pointed out that in 2010, Nevada Senator Harry Reid won re-election in a tight race with the support of nearly four in five AAPI voters who made up four percent of the electorate.

Data from APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets show that nearly half of all registered Asian American voters identify education (48%), healthcare (47%), national security (47%), and jobs (45%) as extremely important to how they cast their ballot — issues that the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party representatives addressed in the forum. This same block of eligible AAPI voters also represents vital margins in swing states across the country, holding the key to determining the winner of the Presidential election.

  • Arizona: 146,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3% of the electorate
  • Florida: 372,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.5% of the electorate
  • Michigan: 145,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Minnesota: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3.1% of the electorate
  • Nevada: 177,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 9% of the electorate
  • North Carolina: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Ohio: 127,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.3% of the electorate
  • Pennsylvania: 223,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.1% of the electorate
  • Virginia: 310,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 5% of the electorate

The historic forum plays a vital role in educating this segment of the electorate, ultimately empowering them to vote on Election Day and elevating their representative profile among national campaigns, voter mobilization programs, and global media outlets.

To access high-resolution photos from the event, visit here.

To access APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets, visit here.

A Word document press release can downloaded here.

Historic AAPI Presidential Forum in Las Vegas Aug. 12

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein will join former President Bill Clinton on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton, and Libertarian presidential nominee Governor Gary Johnson to address the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) national community on August 12, 2016, at a historic AAPI Presidential Election Forum in Las Vegas.

Get the latest news about this event on APIAVote.org and AAJA.org.

In addition, discussions are in final stages with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.

This quad-partisan AAPI Presidential Election Forum is presented by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote).

Upwards of 4,000 leaders from business, real estate, journalism, health care, law, faith, and more, are expected to be inside The Colosseum at Caesars Palace for the Presidential Election Forum. More than 40 organizations are holding conferences, seminars, and symposiums to discuss issues relevant to their industries, professions, and communities.

In addition, more than 50 AAPI community Watch Parties will be held across the country, joining this historic event in real-time.

At the Forum, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) led by Rep. Judy Chu, Rep Mike Honda, and other members of Congress will have a special message on how AAPI voters actually can swing this year’s election outcome as they have in the past two cycles.

Doors open at 1:00 p.m. PST. Press credentials will NOT provide access to candidates, candidate arrivals, or allow for any filming or photography at the event or on Caesars property.


Media Contacts

AAJA: Kathy Chow
EMAIL: kathyc@aaja.org
PHONE: 916-539-0440

APIAVote: Alton Wang
EMAIL: awang@apiavote.org
PHONE: 202-780-8801

Hillary and SF Mayor Ed Lee Hang Out

Hillary Clinton met with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee yesterday  for a wide-ranging discussion that included some of the most challenging issues facing urban cities and how best to address them.

During their nearly hour long tea at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco Chinatown, Clinton asked questions and shared ideas about the housing challenges in the city and how to help boost the local economy.

Clinton has made clear that “one of the four big fights” of her campaign is building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday.

“Whether it was housing, the economy, homelessness, or tech innovation, Hillary Clinton was excited to hear directly from Mayor Lee about how best to tackle the challenges facing San Francisco and similar urban centers across America, “ said Hillary for America National Press Secretary Brian Fallon.

“Throughout this campaign, Hillary Clinton will continue to sit down for conversations about the issues impacting communities and daily lives of everyday Americans.”

Among the many concerns Mayor Lee outlined, two were of critical importance to his city – chronic homelessness and high rents. Lee cited the bundling of federal and city funds for a long term program designed to house homeless veterans.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the city has already used combined funding to renovate buildings like the Stanford Hotel, and found housing for more than 500 such veterans since 2013.”

Clinton has been a champion of urban revival throughout her career; as Senator, she introduced legislation to promote neighborhood revitalization and keep families in their homes, fought for more funding for communities, and helped spur economic growth in cities in upstate New York through projects like Artspace in Buffalo.

Source: Hillary for America media release

Japanese American state legislator upsets incumbent Hawai’i governor

Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie (on the right) congratulates opponent State Senator David Ige (second from right) on Ige’s victory in the state’s Democratic primary on August 9, 2014.

Saturday’s primary election in Hawai’i saw AAPI candidates win impressive victories in top races. How do these races impact national AAPI politics?

Voter turnout was extremely low likely due to Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the islands on Friday, and the impending arrival of Hurricane Julio. However, absentee voter turnout was up 12 percent.

State Senator David Ige, a veteran Japanese Amercian state legislator, upset incumbent Governor Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary. The last time an incumbent governor lost a primary was 1962. Hawai’i’s first governor, Republican William F. Quinn, was defeated by Democrat John A. Burns, a former Delegate to Congress. Burns led a new coalition of labor and Japanese Americans that turned the 50th state blue after years of Republican domination.

Although he chaired the powerful Senate Ways and Means committee, Ige was not a household name. Despite a campaign war chest a fraction of the size of Abercrombie’s, Ige leveraged a strong grassroots campaign to tap into constituent dissatisfaction with the governor’s style and controversial decisions. Ige notably had the support of former governors George Ariyoshi, the first AAPI governor in the U.S., and Benjamin Cayetano, the first Filipino American governor.

AAPI electoral power is still strong in Hawai’i, but voters don’t cast their ballots strictly along ethnic lines. Gov. Abercrombie counted numerous AAPIs as supporters, including former State Senator Randy Iwase, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006.

Ige will meet Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, in the general election. Should Ige win the general in the heavily Democratic state, he will be one of the few AAPI governors in the union. Ige hasn’t played much on the national scene before and likely lacks ambitions for higher office. One of the most tech-savvy officeholders in the country, I suspect that we will see his influence more in public sector innovation than on the national AAPI front.

Sitting Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui, a Japanese American from Maui, comfortably won his primary and will join Ige on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket in the general election. It will mark the first time since 1974’s ticket of George Ariyoshi and Jean King that two Japanese Americans were the top-ticket team of any political party in Hawai’i. Governor Abercrombie picked Tsutsui as LG to replace Brian Schatz, who was appointed U.S. Senator following Daniel Inouye’s passing.

Senator Schatz faced a vigorous primary challenge from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. As of this writing, the race was still too close to call with Schatz leading with only 1,635 votes and a number of precincts still to vote because of polling place shutdowns due to the tropical storm.

Senator Inouye asked Governor Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa as his successor, but the governor instead went with Schatz, his LG at the time. Inouye loyalists were shocked at the governor’s decision, but others supported Governor Abercrombie’s selection.

Abercrombie later inflamed the issue by seemingly calling into the question the validity of Senator Inouye’s wish, raising questions about whether Japanese American voters would respond with support for Ige. It’s not clear how much this issue played into Abercrombie’s defeat, or in the Hanabusa-Schatz match-up.

If Hanabusa crosses the finish line ahead of Schatz, she will join Senator Mazie Hirono, and Hawai’i would have two AAPI women Senators representing it in Washington. Hirono and Hanabusa have been comfortable appearing on the national scene, appearing at progressive gatherings like Netroots Nation.

All the top candidates for Hanabusa’s seat in Congress were AAPIs. State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (Filipina/Korean), State Representative Mark Takai (Japanese), and Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang (Chinese) ran strong campaigns and gave voters distinctly different options. Kim was the early-on favorite and the fundraising powerhouse. Takai, a 20-year veteran of the state house and a Lt. Colonel in the Hawaii National Guard, eventually prevailed and will likely win the general.

If elected, Takai will likely be quite interested in the national AAPI political movement. His previous engagements on the national scene were largely as an advocate for veterans and our servicewomen and men. But once he makes the transition from being the political majority to the ranks of the politically under-represented, Takai will quickly see roles he can play in advancing AAPI empowerment.