Raising Our Community’s Voice
All Asian Americans deserve to be represented at decision-making tables and to have their voices heard. While Asian Americans are the fastest-growing population in the City and are now 16 percent of the population, less than half of eligible Asian American voters turn out to vote. In 2016, a government survey showed that only 41% of Asian New Yorkers eligible to vote were registered, and only 31% of Asian registered voters turned out for the 2016 elections.
AAF’s civic engagement work grew out of our Census outreach efforts aimed at New York’s Asian American population in 2000, 2010 and 2020. During the past three censuses, AAF worked with our member agencies and other pan-Asian community organizations to increase awareness of the decennial Census, address concerns about participating in the Census, and providie in-language messaging and questionnaire assistance to the Asian communities of New York.
Now AAF’s Civic Engagement team is working on using our cultural competence to:
- Increase the number of Asian Americans engaging in the civic life of our city whether as voters, donors to campaigns, member of community boards, or running for office
- Teach our community the advantages of engaging with the government and advocating for themselves as well as how to organize around issues and build alliances with other like-minded groups, and
- Educate them in new electoral systems so that our community becomes a visible, vocal force that cannot be ignored.
Despite contributing to U.S. society for more than 170 years, Asian Americans remain undercounted and underrepresented in the national conversation. The Asian American Federation seeks to increase the community’s participation in the political and civic life of the nation. To that end, the most important step is to ensure that Asian Americans are counted. Where do they live? How many of us are here? What languages do we speak? Our goal is to ensure the Asian American experience in all its complexity is made visible to demographers–and our most effective weapon is data.
As the only officially designated Census Information Center by the U.S. Census Bureau focused on the Asian community in the Northeast and the leading expert on New York’s Asian American census data and issues, AAF is well placed to tell our community’s story through the numbers.
We were a national and local community partner of the U.S. Census Bureau for the 2020 Census, as well as for the Censuses in 2010 and 2000.
We have been able to use our cultural expertise to break down barriers to participation in the Asian American community. Effective in-language communication and training, a deep reach into the community, and strong partnerships helped us to achieve above average participation in the 2020 Census from New York’s Asian American community. Even in a year when Covod-19 made in-person canvassing almost impossible, AAF delivered Asian self-response rates on Census 2020 that were higher than the city-wide average.