By Derek Lum, APACEvotes Community Organizer
It has been a historic session in the WA state legislature. Four laws passed this year that will make Washington one of states with the strongest access for voters. APACEvotes worked to pass on one of these laws, Automatic Voter Registration (AVR).
Through this new law, the voter registration process is simpler for many people. If you get an En-hanced Drivers License, you will be automatically registered to vote or your information will be updated. Another way citizens will be registered to vote is if you sign up for health insurance with the Healthcare Benefits Exchange. You will be presented with a registration form that has already been electronically filled in for you, and you can choose to turn it in. This simplified process will help more people get their ballot, and more people hopefully will vote.
This law will help increase our AAPI voice in the democratic process. Merely half of all eligible AAPI’s are registered to vote in Washington. Language barriers, lack of trust of government, and not understanding the voting process have kept our voting participation low. Our issues and fac-es are not represented in government. Our community is 60 % first generation immigrants, and many are impoverished. Economic survival leaves little time for civic engagement. However, this voting law will help us establish a pattern of voting all across our community. People who vote tend to vote again and children of voters also tend to vote regularly.
In my work in Olympia, I was often times one of a few AAPI’s in the room. I would often have to speak for our entire diverse community in my conversations with legislators and testimonies be-fore committees on the AVR law. Luckily there were supportive AAPI legislators such Senator Hasegawa, Representatives Gregerson, Santos, and Ryu, as well as other friendly legislators and staff there to encourage me.
We cannot be afraid to speak our truth to our governing officials. Visiting in-person is the most powerful way to influence the positions of the legislators, but emailing them or writing them letters will also be effective. Please pay attention to the issues and speak out on those you care about!
There are many organizations that help our AAPI communities advocate for what we care about. One of them is APACEvotes. Please visit us at APACEvotes.org and email us to get involved in our work at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your passion and time!
About the Author
Derek Lum is a Community Organizer with APACEvotes who believes strongly in the ability of the AAPI community to become active in the political process. He is a frequent op-ed writer, and when not working he can be found petting his pug and cooking new food.