The trees are starting to shed, the Seahawks are lowering the Boom down the street, and summer is but a memory. For us political nerds, fall is our favorite season of all—it’s election time!
Ballots are set to drop in mailboxes on October 20, and need to be returned by November 3. Exercising our democratic rights is not only our civic duty, but the most direct and impactful way we have to ensure that our interests and priorities are considered when important decisions are made by our elected leaders.
There are nearly 300,000 Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) in Washington who are eligible to vote. But a whopping 46 percent are not registered. Imagine what policymaking would look like if all APIs voted. In the past 10 years, elections have been won by as little as 250 votes. As a significant share of the vote, APIAs have the numbers to wield significant political power.
Asian Pacific Americans for Civic Empowerment (APACE) engages with our communities as a progressive voice working to inform voters. We have done door-to-door campaigns to get out the vote for APIA-specific voters during the last gubernatorial race and in Federal Way, where large concentrations of the APIA community reside.
APACE also has a political action committee (PAC) that carefully interviews candidates running for office and endorses individuals who share our community’s values of equity, social, and economic justice, and authentic APIA empowerment.
So, how do you, as a voter, get involved? First off, you need to make sure you’re registered to vote. Not registered? Our friends at APACE Votes have got you covered. Find a computer and register here: www.apacevotes.org/register-to-vote.
Secondly, what do you do with those ballots once you get them? APACE will announce our endorsements well before ballots drop on October 20. Keep an eye out for that announcement, or check www.apace-wa.org for the latest.
One ballot initiative to look out for is “Honest Elections Seattle,” also known as Initiative 122 (I-122). Currently, campaigns supporting candidates are able to raise large amounts of money to help them win elections. This ballot initiative is a reform package geared toward limiting the influence of big donors, thus increasing transparency and engaging everyday community members in Seattle elections.
I-122 limits big money, holds elected officials accountable, and puts campaign money directly into the hands of the people.
Research produced by the Seattle-based Alliance for a Just Society finds that Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods actually have the least political influence, and the APIA is particularly politically vulnerable. I-122 levels the playing field and gives more people a voice in the election process.
The bottom line is that passage of I-122 will give the APIA community exponentially more campaign finance participation and, thus, political influence.
Beyond I-122, what in general should you consider when voting?
In our work, we look for candidates who share our values of empowering our APIA communities and social, economic, and political equity, and for those who see the value in being held accountable to these progressive principles.
For ballot items that we do not endorse, we generally recommend using Fuse’s Progressive Voter’s Guide, which you can find here: www.progressivevotersguide.com.
This is an important moment of Seattle’s APIA community, and now is the time to get involved.