Virginia APA Group Meets on ‘Get out the Vote’ Effort
By: Jennie L. Ilustre
Above: Shown are the presenters and participants at the recent Virginia Asian Pacific American Roundtable meeting (seated, from left): Jennie Ho, Katrina Dizon, Joe Montano, Christine Chen and Ting-Yi Oei. Standing, from left: Ted Gong, Dan Choi, Alex Chan, Jackie Bong-Wright, Hui An, Lili Wang and Amanda Ding.
The Virginia Asian Pacific American Roundtable held a general meeting on March 1 on the coming November general elections. The topic was Virginia Asian Pacific American “Get Out the Vote” (VA APA GOTV) effort.
The Roundtable is a consortium of individuals, community organizations, and service providers that are connected to Northern Virginia’s Asian Pacific American community.
APIA Vote Executive Director Christine Chen, one of the evening’s presenters, commented, “With voter registration rates as low as 32% in some states among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, there’s an urgent need to focus on getting more of them registered.”
“We need to inform and educate our community about advocating on the issues that impact our community,” she stressed.
“I am in the process of identifying what organizations in Virginia would like to work with APIAVote,” she said. “We can then host a voter registration and engagement training program for volunteers and community leaders.”
She added: “APIAVote’s focus is on building capacity of local Asian American and Pacific Islander nonprofit to implement the four phases of electoral organizing– Voter Registration, Education, Get-Out-The-Vote and Voter Protection.”
CAPAVA President Daniel Seokhwan Choi said the Roundtable “seeks to foster greater communication and collaboration within the consortium in order to obtain resources and solutions for Northern Virginia’s Asian Pacific American community.”
Choi, who is also with Legal Aid Justice Center, stressed: “But our goal is not to get specific candidates elected. Instead, our goal is to make sure that every candidate gets elected with support, understanding, and appreciation of Asian Virginians.”
“Where requested or necessary, we also like to build bridges between our ethnically and politically diverse Asian American partners,” he explained. “This year, we are planning a pan-Asian candidate’s forum. By combining forces across political and ethnic lines, we hope to build and showcase unity and strength of the Asian American community in Virginia.”
Another presented was Katrina Dizon, president of the D.C. Chapter of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). The event took place at Fortune Seafood Restaurant in Seven Corners Center, Falls Church in Virginia.
APIA Vote is a national nonpartisan organization that works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in electoral and civic participation.
“By joining the APIAVote coalition of AAPI organizations in your area, you can host a joint town hall discussing the issues important to the community, or host a candidates’ forum,” said Executive Director Chen.
She also mentioned hosting a viewing party of APIAVote’s Presidential Town Hall, which she said would possibly be held in July, and hosting events with the local election registrar’s office to educate voters about language assistance or absentee voting.
She also outlined the activities other organizations can engage in as follows: Incorporating voter registration into your registration process for all your regularly scheduled events for the year; coordinating volunteers to host voter registration efforts on certain days at key locations (churches, grocery stores, restaurants, fairs, language schools, special holiday gatherings);
Checking your membership list or list of supporters against the voter files to determine who is not registered yet and focusing on reaching out to these potential new voters; establishing a Phone bank to get voters to pledge to vote on Election day; assisting in placing articles on how to register to vote and encouraging coverage of the elections with your local ethnic press; and running voter turnout programs through mail, phones, canvassing or online through collaboration with other nonprofit programs, like a State Voices partner organization.