The Power of Asian-Americans at the Polls

The 2020 United States presidential election is around the corner and there seems to be a sense of urgency in the air this time around. This feeling is amplified when we turn on the news to hear discriminatory policies being proposed or a xenophobic tweet from the President of the United States. This past January, the Trump administration announced they were expanding the Muslim Ban, which would include countries like Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania (1). Furthermore, his recent reference of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” is another indication of his hateful rhetoric. Unfortunately, it creates spaces where this type of behavior is acceptable and normalized. However, we can express our grievances towards this administration by engaging ourselves in our democracy.

Before the general presidential election in November, it is essential that we participate in our upcoming primaries and caucuses that will decide the Democratic nominee. To say that our democratic process is simple is an overstatement, as there are deep flaws within the system. One component of this flawed institution is the lack of an automatic voter registration system when one turns eighteen years old. Therefore, it is vital that we register to vote in order to participate in the progressive change that is only made possible when we head to the polls. Registering to vote is the first step in being a civically engaged citizen, and I encourage you to take that step because your decisions will influence the course of American history. Given that this is a platform that is meant to be utilized as a resource, here is a link to register to vote: https://vote.gov

Overachiever Magazine works tirelessly to amplify and give spaces for the Asian community – mobilizing the Asian-American community to participate in our democratic process is at the top of our agenda. During the 2016 election, Asian-American voter turnout was only about 49%, which is relatively low in comparison to other groups (2). The notion that Asian-Americans don’t believe in voting or that we are simply too busy to vote are statements used to disguise the systemic issues within our democracy. It is in fact the lack of outreach within these communities that leads to low voter turnout. Without accurate information about candidates, polling stations and sometimes ballot questions, people will be further discouraged from going to the polls. The statistics are staggering when it comes to this issue. 74 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and 71 percent of Asian Americans across the U.S. reported that they were not contacted about the election in 2016 (3). Our democracy was not created for people of color which is evident till this day. The inaccessibility of voter information and resources is a testament to the disregard for minority communities, specifically the Asian community with regards to the political landscape. However, we must find other ways to inform the Asian-American community about the importance of representation. When we demonstrate our power, we become visible to politicians who have disregarded us for far too long. The legitimacy and power of politicians comes from us and we must exercise our power to make sure that they are responsive to the issues that directly impact our communities. 

In order to increase voter-turnout among the Asian-American community, here are some tips to foster civic engagement within your communities: 

  • Organize voter registration drives at your local community center, parks or other public forums. The most important part of organizing is finding ways to engage with members of your community and facilitate conversations about the issues. When we allow for conversation, we are able to collectively understand the need for action.

  • There is a lot of misinformation and miscommunication within politics. If you are able to provide accurate and relevant information about the candidates, share that information with people. Inform people about the policies of each candidate. Be a resource for your peers and community members. Education is the most important asset that we have and when we are armed with education going into these voting booths, we are able to start a revolution within those spaces. 

  • On election day, carpool your neighbors and friends to your polling station. Most people are discouraged to vote because of the inconvenience of the polling location. The system itself is already difficult, but you can make it less daunting by removing that barrier. In addition, Lyft is offering free and/or discounted rides to the polling stations on election day. There are no excuses to not head to the polls.

We often forget that voting in this country is a right, not a privilege. We deserve to express our grievances and issues with the policies being proposed. We have the right to demand for reformation within institutions. Therefore, when we head to the polls, we are planting seeds for a major political revolution. So here’s to the political revolution and I hope to see the Asian-American community being dominating forces in the upcoming elections. See you at the polls!

Footnote: 

  1. https://civilrights.org/trump-rollbacks/

  2. http://aapidata.com/blog/voting-gains-gaps/

  3. https://naasurvey.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/NAAS2016-Oct5-report.pdf

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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