The Significance of AAPI Communities to the 2024 Election

Photo courtesy of @apiavote on Instagram.

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing voter demographic in the United States, Pew Research Center reported in January. Despite their rapidly growing importance, our politicians don’t take concerns from the Asian American voting bloc as seriously as needed.

This election season, Asian Americans need to be recognized by our political institutions as the vitally important political demographic they are. Tangible steps need to be taken toward increasing accessibility in our political systems.

A February article from the New York Times revealed that as recently as 2020, the Asian American voter demographic is typically disregarded during election seasons in critical election states like Georgia, under the assumption that they wouldn’t turn out to vote. This assumption is patently false, as the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Organization found that the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) American communities have been turning out in record numbers for several election cycles now. According to AAPI Data, in Georgia, the AAPI voter turnout jumped a staggering 84% in 2020.

The assumption that Asian Americans don’t vote causes politicians to not reach out to these communities. During the 2022 midterms, an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Organization poll found that “More than two-thirds of registered Asian Americans surveyed say they plan to vote, but only about half have been contacted by either of the major parties.” 

Aside from underestimating the AAPI vote, part of the problem is that the AAPI voter demographic requires unique political outreach strategies. Pew Research Center found that “Asian Americans are the only major racial or ethnic group where more of its eligible voters are naturalized citizens than U.S.-born citizens (56% vs. 44%).” This often means that to effectively contact the community, politicians need to use languages other than English. According to the Asian American Federation, language barriers often prevent AAPI voters from fully participating. While language accessibility is increasing over time, many politicians haven’t expanded to languages commonly spoken by the incredibly diverse AAPI diaspora, such as Mandarin, Japanese or Tagalog. If politicians want to mobilize this rapidly growing demographic, they need to be more serious about language accessibility to start.

Democracy takes a lot of work. We’ve all seen how easily it can be threatened, especially during this election season. But we can’t fully claim the democratic ideals this country was founded upon if we’re not serious about letting everyone in, including and especially those, who have been historically overlooked.

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