Apr. 19, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
Asian Pacific Americans Voting & Organizing to Increase Civic Engagement (APA VOICE), a non-partisan coalition of community-based organizations that serve Asian-American communities in New York, recently announced the launch of its 2023 Civic Engagement Coalition.
Sixteen member organizations will prepare and lead a comprehensive ‘Get Out the Vote’ programming to educate and mobilize Asian American communities to participate in the 2023 primary and general elections.
This year’s cohort features four new member partners including Immigrant Social Services, KCMB TV, Korean-Chinese American Council, and Parent Child Relationship Association. Seven member organizations will lead door canvassing outreach in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, and Bensonhurst as well as throughout Queens.
“This is a very important partnership, especially when we consider that our community’s voter participation rate is often lower than other groups,” said Chengyue Jin, founder & executive director of the Korean-Chinese American Council. “We know that this unequal participation rate can have a significant impact on the election. The collaboration between the Korean-Chinese American Council and APA VOICE can help our community members understand the importance of civic participation and empower us with the opportunities to truly shape our future.”
The 2023 elections will feature competitive city council primary elections in districts with sizable Asian American communities. It will also mark the second time New York City voters will vote using ranked choice voting for local-level primaries.
Following the 2020 redistricting cycle, the lines of New York City’s council districts have also shifted to reflect the changing demographics of the city to keep communities more whole. APA VOICE members will lead multilingual voter outreach to inform voters about updated redistricted lines and ranked choice voting as well as organize candidate forums and surveys in select city council districts with active primary elections.
John Park, executive director of MinKwon Center for Community Action, said the organization’s leadership in convening APA VOICE and its ongoing commitment to expanding civic engagement among Asian American communities in NYC is essential to ensuring a truly representative democracy.
“With a track record of over a decade of work, APA VOICE has already made a significant impact in increasing awareness and participation among Asian American voters, resulting in a 350% increase in APA voter turnout within the past decade,” Park said. “APA VOICE has continued our efforts in advocating for fair and equitable redistricting to give our under-resourced communities a voice in government.”
As they look towards the 2023 cycle and beyond, Park said the center is excited to continue working with other APA VOICE members to address some of the unique challenges they’re facing, empowering communities, and ensuring their voices are heard in all levels of government.
Thomas Yu, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), said the center is proud to once again partner with APA VOICE member organizations to help energize, educate and mobilize Asian American and Pacific Islander voters in this year’s key municipal elections.
“Our communities are the fastest growing in New York City and there is growing recognition that civic participation is the key to ensuring that we have a voice in government at every level,” Yu said. “All of us at AAFE are excited to work in collaboration with our nonprofit partners to plan a dynamic series of voter education and outreach events in the coming year.”
Mohamed Q. Amin, founder and executive director of the Caribbean Equality Project, said local elections matter and that building political power starts at the neighborhood level.
“Being a member of APA VOICE is an investment in Caribbean Equality Project’s hyper-local civic engagement and voter education organizing to mobilize Afro and Indo-Caribbean immigrant voters to have their voices heard,” Amin said. “It demonstrates our collective people power to elect leaders who will advance workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ affirming legislation, end religious and racially discriminatory policies, and fight for equity for ALL, regardless of immigration status.”
William Jourdain, executive director of Woodside on the Move, said APA VOICE has given inspiration and dignity to its AAPI neighbors who have gone without representation and a voice for much too long.
“Through a seamless facilitated organized effort, our AAPI brothers and sisters are one step closer to having a more unified voice thanks to the civic engagement APA VOICE has been leading on. APA VOICE has been active, involved and they have been a beacon for our AAPI community,” Jourdain said.