Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Asian-American community aims to demonstrate political power

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Nine Asian American organizations are partnering for a rally in downtown L.A. Saturday that is intended to demonstrate the community's growing political influence.

Clarissa Woo, Director of Policy Advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the purpose of the rally is “to highlight the importance of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to get out and vote.”  

Woo notes the AAPI community will play an important role this year's election.

“The AAPI community is the fastest growing community group in California," she says. "Asian-American voters have jumped over 33 percent since 2000, and APIs make up over 15 percent of the state’s population. The AAPI population, therefore, is a key voting bloc that remains largely untapped in terms of political power."

However, Woo also says that turnout rates among the AAPI community are lower than the average voting population. “I think that there is a strong need for bilingual cultural access for the community. Things are a bit daunting so it’s just overcoming all of that information,” Woo says. She adds that the ballot propositions may be difficult for those with language barriers to understand.

The Korean Resource Center is also a community organizer for the rally. Dayne Lee, Civic Participation Coordinator of the KRC, says the rally will help to continue to unify the AAPI community: “A lot of these organizations are doing their own separate voter turnout efforts, but for a lot of reasons — language, geography —different Asian American Pacific Islander communities don’t work directly together.”  

He uses his own organization as an example. They’ve called over 50,000 voters so far — all within the Korean-American community. 

The rally takes place Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza in Little Tokyo.