07/25/2017

The People’s Vote

Asian I voted stickerIn recent weeks, U.S. Congresswoman of New York Grace Meng has proposed the 21st Century Voting Act, a bill which intends to “protect, improve, and modernize the act of voting.” According to Meng’s website as well as the language on the bill itself, the 21st Century Voting Act seeks to:

  1. Make Election Day a national holiday;
  2. Initiate automatic voter registration;
  3. Restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated persons;
  4. Make voter registration portable;
  5. Allow voting information, such as polling place and registration status, to be available online;
  6. Strengthen and streamline voting cybersecurity protections;
  7. Provide additional federal resources to state and local election boards;
  8. Establish a quadrennial review of voting in America.

In short, the act keeps in mind the protection of our voting rights and seeks to create greater accessibility to vote for all American citizens eligible to do so.

“It is way past time that Congress pass meaningful voting reform,” Meng said on her website. “It is ridiculous that in this day and age such troublesome hurdles exist that restrict access to the ballot box. My bill would address key priorities to modernizing our voting systems, including establishing automatic and portable voter registration, and making Election Day a national holiday. These commonsense reforms would allow every American the opportunity to participate in our electoral process, which is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. We must finally overhaul our disparate and complicated voting systems.”

Our right to vote is consistently explained to us as an equitable and democratic privilege that we have as American citizens—and this is true in the sense that our right to vote is founded upon such democratic principles. We are allowed to have a say in the actions of our country, and we have the power as the people of our country to elect who to grant greater powers to.

However, the issues Meng brings to light in the 21st Century Voting Act are crucial to upholding the democratic principles behind our right to vote. Despite the great ideals upon which our democracy has been founded upon, many members of American society have historically been barred from this right. Even after African Americans were technically granted the right to vote under the 15th amendment in 1870, it was not until almost a century later when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 that they could practice that right. Prior to that, the ability to vote was basically inaccessible due to many laws that were created with the intention to indirectly keep African American citizens from voting. Poll taxes prevented citizens who could not afford to pay the tax from voting, and literacy tests prevented uneducated citizens from voting, and furthermore tended to be selectively administered to African American citizens.

While these laws have since been repealed, still many barriers remain which keep voting inaccessible to many American citizens who by all means should be able to have a say in the way in which our country is run. Unsurprisingly, marginalized communities still tend to be disproportionately be effected.

In particular, the Asian American community has been seen to have the lowest voter turnout of any racial group in the United States, according to a study of the 2010 Midterm Elections done by the Pew Research group. Of Asian Americans who did not vote, most said that they were too busy with work or school to do so. In fact, nearly forty percent cited this as their reason for not voting, a rate fifty percent higher than any other racial or ethnic group. The ease of voting Meng’s bill presents is especially crucial to the Asian American community for this reason, as this accessibility could drastically increase Asian American voter turnout. With this, the Asian American community could very well gain the voice it deserves within our government.

It also comes at a key time following our last Presidential election, after which America was labeled a partial rather than full democracy for the first time ever. As citizens, the power of our right to vote is an idea that has been entrenched in our identity as Americans itself. The philosophy of a democratic society does not function unless all members of the society are granted some voice within their government. The right to vote lies at the foundation on which our country was built, and we should make every move to uphold these rights, or strip ourselves from all of the principles that we hold to be true as Americans. But with Meng’s 21st Century Voting Act in mind, we must also remember that with our support true voting equity is possible. And so we must go forth and mobilize, and with that, I urge our congress to support Meng’s bill with the same fervor I do.

Meng Introduces Bill to Modernize Voting 

 

Rep. Grace MengRep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced today that she has introduced legislation to modernize and streamline voting in the United States, and make Election Day a national holiday.
The 21st Century Voting Act (H.R. 893) aims to remove barriers that would allow more Americans to cast ballots in local, state and national elections.

“It is way past time that Congress pass meaningful voting reform,” said Meng. “It is ridiculous that in this day and age such troublesome hurdles exist that restrict access to the ballot box. My bill would address key priorities to modernizing our voting systems, including establishing automatic and portable voter registration, and making Election Day a national holiday. These commonsense reforms would allow every American the opportunity to participate in our electoral process, which is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. We must finally overhaul our disparate and complicated voting systems.”

Meng’s bill would create a Commission on Voting tasked with proposing legislation to accomplish the following:

(1) make Election Day a national holiday;

(2) initiate automatic voter registration;

(3) restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated persons;

(4) make voter registration portable;

(5) allow voting information, such as polling place and registration status, to be available online;

(6) strengthen and streamline voting cybersecurity protections;

(7) provide additional federal resources to state and local election boards;

(8) establish a quadrennial review of voting in America.

The Commission would be comprised of 15 members appointed, in equal number, by the President, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
H.R. 893 has been referred to the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on Rules. To view the full text of the bill, click here.

2016 DNCC Platform for AAPIs

Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention issued a draft of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform (Draft). We quote the sections relevant to the AAPI community so you can tell your elected officials which helps our goal of increasing AAPI progressive political involvement.

draft watermark repeating

DNC Draft Platform

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Youth Jobs

Democrats will create millions of jobs for our young people. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. The unemployment rates for African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and American Indian teenagers are far too high. That is why Democrats will provide direct federal funding for a range of local programs that will put young people to work and create new career opportunities.

Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Create Ladders of Opportunity

Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for white Americans is roughly ten times that of African Americans and Latino Americans. These disparities are just as stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups. The racial and ethnic gap in wealth and income has been created by historical and contemporary policies and practices that discriminate against people of color and constrained their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.

This economic disadvantage has accumulated over time and is made worse by ongoing discrimination. For example, as a result of the housing crisis and the great recession, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans lost more than half of their net worth. And these losses were compounded by the fact that during the subprime mortgage crisis lenders targeted communities of color for faulty mortgages.

Democrats believe it is long past time to close this racial wealth gap by eliminating systemic barriers to wealth accumulation for different racial groups and improving opportunities for people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to build wealth.

Criminal Justice

Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though we have less than five percent of the world’s people. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Across the country, there are many police officers who inspire trust and confidence, deploying creative and effective strategies, and demonstrating that it is possible to reduce crime without relying on unnecessary force. We should learn from those examples and build on what works.

We will invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the appropriate use of force, and encourage better police-community relations and the use of smart strategies like police body cameras. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals, based solely on race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We support states and localities that choose to make the investigations and prosecutions of police-involved shootings more independent and transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. And we will explore reforms of the civil asset forfeiture system. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to provide greater investment in jobs and education, and end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by banning the box, expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights. We will prioritize treatment over incarceration in tackling addiction and substance use disorder. This means significantly expanding treatment in this country for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

We have been inspired by the movements for criminal justice that directly address the discriminatory treatment of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians to rebuild trust in the criminal justice system.

Provide Quality and Affordable Education

Minority-Serving Institutions

We will strengthen our nation’s public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions by providing a dedicated fund of tens of billions of dollars to keep costs down, provide a quality education, and provide dedicated support to improve student outcomes and completion rates. These schools play an important role in building opportunity and creating a diverse workforce.

Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Democrats believe that it is not right that your zip code or census tract is a predictor of your health, which is why we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. Democrats believe that all health care services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate. And we should disaggregate data collection for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because data disaggregation is a necessary step in fully understanding the needs of the AAPI community for all government services.

Immigration

Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and history. We must defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants.

Foreign Affairs

Asia-Pacific

From the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, we will deepen our alliances in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.

Where to go for answers?

Twitter

Want to know what organizations do things similar to us? Want to find out where to go when you’re wondering about something related to us? Here’s your answer:

  1. I posted earlier about NYC-specific AAPI progressive orgs.
  2. OCA (Overseas Chinese Association) @OCANational– gives Chinese in America a voice
  3. CAPA21 @CAPA21action – same as us
  4. NCAPA (National Council of Asian Pacific Americans) @NCAPAtweets – organizes AAPI orgs, politics & otherwise
  5. APIAVote @APIAVote – grassroots/GOTV, the AAPI’s Rock the Vote
  6. AOF (America’s Opportunity Fund), @AAPIVictoryFund – AAPI’s superPAC
  7. AAU (Asian Americans United) @asamunited – for Philadelphia AAPI
  8. AALEAD (Asian American Leadership and Empowerment and Development) @aalead – help AAPI youth
  9. AAGEN (Asian American Government Executives Network) @AAGENnews, APAICS (Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies) @APAICS – network AAPI adults
  10. WHAAPI (White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) @WhiteHouseAAPI, DNC AAPI Community Engagement @AAPI_Dems – help DNC AAPI adults
  11. Angry Asian Man @angryasianman, 18 Million Rising @18millionrising – go viral
  12. Hyphen Magazine @hyphenmagazine – curated articles
  13. Asian Fortune @asianfortune_dc – all AAPI news
  14. AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund) @aaldef, NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association) @ NAPABA – AAPI legal representation, oversight, and monitoring
  15. AAAJ & AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Asian American Justice Center) @AAAJ_AAJC – AAPI’s ACLU
  16. AAJA (Asian American Journalist Association) @aaja, MANAA (Media Action Network Asian Americans) – AAPI’s Media Matters
  17. New American Leaders @NewAmericanLP – close the AAPI gap
  18. Emily’s List – credible list of AAPI female candidates
  19. CAN (Chinese American Network) – in Chinese on WeChat only, if that’s your thing

I challenge you to find a long list of AAPI conservative orgs.

Tweets from https://twitter.com/AAAFund/lists/candidates
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