Hey Mochi family! This is a quick PSA to tell you that your vote counts more than ever. 

Voting rates among Asian American citizens remain low: During the 2016 presidential election only 49% of the eligible population turned up to the polls, in comparison with the 65% of white voters. Amidst indicators of climate change scorching the West Coast, a global pandemic, and a human rights revolution, it is so important that the AAPI community have a say in not just who becomes president but local and state laws as well. 

Women are quick to celebrate that they won the vote in 1920, but it wasn’t until 1943 that Asian American women and men were able to vote. Even though Asian immigrants labored on projects that built our nation’s infrastructure since the 1800s, we were not granted the right to naturalize as American citizens until 1943. Moreover, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which we have Black activists to thank for — BIPOC Americans faced racial discrimination at the polls, particularly in the form of literacy tests, the most egregious of which included instances where Black voters were forced to dicate the entire Constitution. Voting is a right, yet still today Asian Americans and BIPOC find themselves disenfranchised from the voting process due to language barriers; lack of in-language, culturally-responsive campaign materials and civic education; and denying the use of interpreters

The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If you are wary of voting in person due to COVID-19 or because you just can’t make it to the polls that day, don’t fret! Voting in person on that day is not the only way to participate in our country’s democratic process. Most states offer mail-in ballots and early voting options. A few notes: 

  • Check if you are registered to vote. Do it, and do it now!
  • Voting by mail is still a great option for those who are immunocompromised and/or those who just cannot make it to the polls. Despite the attacks on the United States Postal Service, the USPS is dedicated to doing their part in the election and recommends mailing in your ballot at least 7 days in advance. But just in case, send the ballot back 14 days early or drop it off at an early voting location or your polling site on Election Day. 
  • If you are planning on voting in person on Election Day itself, come prepared! Scout out your polling location, know the hours of the site, check with your employer (in 30 states, you can take time off from work to vote) and bring a government-issued form of identification and a face mask, a lawn chair, snacks, and something to pass the time. Social distancing measures are predicted to create long lines at the polls.
    • Another important thing to mention about in-person voting is that a majority of polling places will not allow you to use your phone in the building, so know who and what you are voting for before you go in and write those selections down on a piece of paper or on a sample ballot.

… Or you can vote early (in 40+ states) or by mail, a.k.a. absentee voting. 

A Note About Registration

Although each state has its own registration process, you can obtain a printable Federal Voter Registration form that you can mail into your state officials from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. This form is unique because it comes in 15 languages, but you must follow the specific state information included in each packet. 

Photo credit: Element5 Digital//Unsplash

Author

  • Giannina Ong is completing her master's in women's and gender studies at University of Toronto. She is a nerd: she loves reading, writing, and being in the classroom. At Mochi magazine, she serves as activism editor and co-editor of Black Allyship @ Mochi, in addition to writing and copyediting.

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