On October 1, a straw poll was taken at the Asian American and Pacific Islander Candidates and Issues Forum for two purposes. One was to see how the audience felt after hearing from 10 candidates and the pros and cons of Honest Elections (I-122 in Seattle). The second reason was to practice how to fill out a ballot. The Straw Poll Ballot had instructions about using a black pen, voting for one candidate/race, and completely filling in the oval next to the candidate of choice.
The Straw Poll reflects several patterns that are mirrored in AA & PI voting patterns over the last few years and these patterns weaken our collective voice as a community:
Turn Out: Turn out is the number of voters who actually voted vs the number of voters who are eligible to vote. 190 community members attended the forum, but only 53 voted. That is a turn out rate of 28%. While voter turn out has been trending downward for the entire electorate since 2008, AA & PIs make up 7% of eligible voters yet only 3% voted in 2014. In order for AA & PIs to influence elected officials and public policy, we must vote!
Voting the entire Ballot: Only 32 of the 53 members who turned in a ballot at the forum fully completed the ballot. While it does not invalidate the ballot to vote for only a few of the races, it further weakens the power of the AA & PI vote.
Errors in marking the Ballot that made them invalid:
- Some people crossed through or checked the ovals instead of filling them in.
- Some people voted for both of the candidates.
- Some people wrote “first” and “second” next to the name of the candidates.
- Some people wrote “tied” next to the names of the candidates.
In order for your Ballot to be valid:
- You must fill in the oval with black ink next to your choice.
- You must sign in the signature section the mailing envelope and date it.
- You must either stamp and mail your ballot postmarked November 3, 2015 or turn in your ballot at a drop box by 8:00 p.m. on November 3.
Voting is a privilege, make your voice counted. Make our AA & PI community voice heard by voting in the November 3 Election by carefully filling in the ovals of your choice, signing and dating outside of the envelope, and turning in your ballot on time. There are 276,488 Asian Pacific Islander citizens over 18 who are eligible to vote in Washington State. 46% are not even registered to vote. Just think, if all of the Asian Pacific Islander citizens voted, we would be numerous enough to change the outcome of elections. In the last two years, elections have been won by only 15 votes. As a significant share of the vote, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can be politically powerful. Remember, every vote counts.
Akemi Matsumoto is an APACEvotes board member.