With less than 50 days until the November election, organizations are ramping up efforts to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in Las Vegas register and cast their ballots, given that the population could be the swing vote.
Two AAPI organizations leading the push are the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC), which have partnered together to bring registration booths to easily accessible AAPI-owned businesses across Clark County.
Gloria Caoile, a Filipino-American community leader and the national political director of APALA, said 35 Fil-Ams are currently out in the field and are stationed at Fil-Am establishments throughout the week leading up to Oct. 8, the last day to register to vote or update one’s existing registration.
Until the deadline, Fil-Ams can head to Seafood City, Island Pacific, Fiesta Filipino (both Durango and Henderson locations), Sariling Atin and the Boulevard Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday. On Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., there will be volunteers at the South Point Hotel Casino’s bowling center.
“We have now engaged community members to tap their families and friends, not just be limited to where their worksites are,” she told the Asian Journal. “That has yielded a lot of results. We are now, under [Fil-Am leader] Rozita Lee, engaged in the faith-based communities also.”
After individuals are registered, volunteers ask them to fill out a pledge card, expressing their commitment to actually vote.
Caoile emphasized that the registration drive is nonpartisan and is not in favor of certain candidates.
“We are focused on getting individuals to register to vote and getting our numbers up so we can be counted,” she said, remarking that civic engagement among AAPIs has increased significantly since 2010.
AAPIs comprise the fastest-growing group in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fil-Ams are considered the largest Asian American ethnic group in the area with a population of about 110,000.
Despite the access and ease of registration, both organizations acknowledge that their year-long effort is not yet over.
Vida Lin, president and founder of ACDC, shared some of the reasons individuals state as to why they don’t register.
“I had no idea how hard it was going to be and how much education would be needed,” she said. “They say they don’t want to be called for jury duty, so we have to explain that that’s a myth. They say, ‘I don’t have time.’ We say it takes one minute to register and very simple now because you have places where you can do early voting and you can do absentee voting.”
Lin added that targeting younger potential voters could help sway older AAPIs to register and vote.
“If we reach out to the youth, we know that they can go back to their families and share how important it is,” she said. “Maybe in the past, they didn’t vote because they might have thought that they were overlooked. But…when they don’t register to vote that’s why they’re overlooked and that’s why no one is paying attention to them. If they look at how that one vote can make a difference in this town — a few votes here and there can swing close elections.”
The early voting period in Clark County begins on Oct. 22 until Nov. 4. Nov. 1 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot.