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Asian- American vote key in elections

By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-11-05 23:35
Voters cast their ballots during Early Voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in Norwalk, California on Nov 5, 2018, a day ahead the midterm elections in the US.[Photo/VCG]

The growing Asian-American population in the US has become the focus for candidates in a number of tight races in the midterm elections in California.

"The Asian-American vote has never been more important than it is now, because the Asian-American community is the fastest-growing community in America," said Allen Chen, deputy political director and outreach director for Gil Cisneros' campaign.

Cisneros, a Democratic candidate, is running against Republican Young Kim in a tight race in the 39th congressional district in California, an area that encompasses parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

"We are a minority-majority district, because our district is one-third Latino, one-third Asian, and one-third white," Chen said. "In order for anyone to win here, they need to be able to appeal to minorities."

Despite accounting for less than 6 percent of the US population, Chinese Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the US, according to the Pew Research Center. The group grew from 11.9 million to 20.4 million, or 72 percent, between 2000 and 2015.

To engage the Chinese-American community, which makes up 40 percent of the Asian-American population in the district, Chen said volunteers in the campaign wrote postcards in Chinese to voters and connected with them over the phones.

The campaign has also tapped into social media such as WeChat and Line to engage with Asian-American voters. It even found volunteers through the WeChat circles of supporters of California Treasurer John Chiang when he ran for governor, Chen said.

"John Chiang's campaign also did a lot of work in engaging the Chinese community, we are trying to build off what they already started," he said.

Traditionally, Chinese Americans' participation in voting or politics has been low compared to other racial groups, but some say this pattern is changing.

Liqing Lee Sun, an engineer/attorney who is running for a seat on the Irvine City Council, said Chinese Americans' interest in voting and politics has increased steadily for the past few years, due to people's concerns about relevant issues such as traffic jams, overcrowded schools, marijuana laws and the US-China trade war.

"Irvine has 270,000 residents, about half are minorities. However, on the City Council, there is no minority representative," said Sun, who is one of 12 candidates vying for two open seats on the Irvine City Council.

Miles away in Los Angeles County, Allen Wu, director of the Walnut Valley water district, is running for a council seat in Walnut City, where Asian Americans make up 64 percent of the local population.

Wu encouraged more Chinese Americans to participate in politics and vote in order to ensure their rights and make their voices heard.

Contact the writer at teresaliu@chinadailyusa.com

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