As a child of refugees from Cambodia, it is easy to say that the importance of voting was never a top priority in my home. My parents focused on making ends meet with the help of welfare programs, hopes of bringing the rest of our family to the states, and ensuring that their kids went to college. However, I came to realize that those all came down to improving the U.S. healthcare system, working towards comprehensive immigration reform, challenging the school-to-prison pipeline that has setback so many Southeast Asian children in the U.S, and much more. All of which have the potential to be reformed by the force of Asian American voices in politics. With this, I realized how important it is to ensure that my parents and I get out to vote so that we have a say in the policies that directly affect our families and the communities we’re a part of. This is why, as an NCAAT College Intern this summer, I was so excited to learn that North Carolina Asian Americans Together is launching an online tool to assist community members with voter registration and empowering families like mine to have our voices heard at the ballot box.
NCAAT’s new online voter registration assistance tool provides a safe and easy way to register to vote from home. This tool will help new voters and those updating their voter information with navigating North Carolina’s online voter registration process hosted at the DMV to ensure that those who are eligible can register to vote.
The ongoing effects of COVID-19 and recent motions in the Black Lives Matter movement have truly shined light on the flaws of the systems that are meant to support and protect our communities. It reveals the importance of standing in solidarity with our fellow BIPOC communities and working actively to combat anti-Asian and anti-Black racism. It’s important to remember that we do have a voice and can make a change in the policies that guide the future of our nation by participating in civic engagement efforts like voting and completing the 2020 Census!
According to data collected by APIA Vote and AAPI Data as of 2020, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up 3.5% of the North Carolina electorate which consists of 171,668 eligible AAPI voters in the state. This is enough voters to be the deciding factor in electing future leaders. Asian Americans continue to be the fastest-growing racial population in North Carolina, yet in the 2012 North Carolina elections, AAPIs only had a voter turnout rate of 59% (A Growing Voice, 2016). By reaching out to more communities to vote and unveiling the political power of North Carolina’s AAPIs, we have the potential to shift the political landscape of our state and uplift our voices.
Why are Asian Americans so hard to reach? Asian Americans encompass dozens of diverse languages, nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures in North Carolina, with some of the largest ethnic groups being Indian, Chinese, and Filipino. Our state also holds a substantial Southeast Asian population, many of whom came to the state as refugees such as the Cambodian, Montagnard, and Hmong communities. While these communities have established strong cultural foundations in North Carolina, numerous institutional barriers have prevented them from civic participation. For instance, 78% of Asian Americans in N.C. speak a language other than English at home yet many are unaware of the language assistance programs available to help them get to the polls (A Growing Voice, 2016).
Why does the Asian American vote matter? Asian Americans historically have low rates of voter turnout along with low levels of contact from politicians and community organizations about voting. With this, the needs and voices of AAPIs are often ignored and overlooked in the policy-making process. By voting, you can have a say in deciding the leadership and future direction of the state. Just as we represent a broad range of Asian cultures, AAPI voters are motivated by many different U.S. policies that directly impact AAPI communities. These issues include immigration reform, police accountability, disaggregating data, and education (A Growing Voice, 2016).
How to Get Involved:
Check if you are registered to vote in North Carolina, update your voter registration information, and find your polling place.
Request a 2020 Absentee Ballot for North Carolina
Register to Vote in North Carolina
IMPORTANT ELECTION DATES:
North Carolina Second Congressional Primary Election Day: June 23, 2020
Early Voting: Jun 4, 2020 – Jun 20, 2020
Voter Registration Deadline: Fri May 29, 2020
Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot: Tue Jun 16, 2020
Deadline to Return Completed Absentee Ballot: Tue Jun 23, 2020
NC General Election Day: Nov 3, 2020
Early Voting: Oct 15, 2020 – Oct 31, 2020
Voter Registration Deadline: Friday, October 9, 2020
Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot: Tue Oct 27, 2020
Deadline to Return Completed Absentee Ballot: Tue Nov 3, 2020
Join us in supporting policies that lead to a better future together — Register to vote today.
If you have any difficulties with the voter registration process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimberly Cang is a rising junior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Social and Economic Justice. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts but spent most of her life in Norcross, Georgia. As a child of Cambodian refugees, she is extremely proud of her Teochew Chinese and Khmer culture which is what galvanized her interest in Southeast Asian American rights and Asian American advocacy in general.