Despite comprising of 15% of New York City's population, only 6.9% of the Asian American community votes. In 2015, MinKwon Center co-founded APA VOICE (Asian Pacific Americans Voting and Organizing for Increased Civic Engagement) -- a coalition of twelve community-based organizations dedicated to demonstrating both the power and needs of the Asian American immigrant population through voter turnout and education.
Since 2004, MinKwon has registered tens of thousands of people to vote and continues to empower Korean, Asian and immigrant voters through six non-partisan, comprehensive efforts -- voter registration, research, education, mobilization, assistance, and protection.
Intensive registration efforts increase the base of Korean, Asian, and immigrant community members that are eligible to vote. In 2013, MinKwon registered over 2,500 new voters and provided voter registration technical assistance to our coalition partners on voter registration as well as “best practices” in voter engagement. Since 2004, MinKwon registered over 80,000 new immigrant voters.
In 2004, MinKwon created the first-ever database of Korean American voters in New York City, compiling a list of over 28,000 voters. This database is a powerful tool for mobilization and education efforts, which has expanded to APA VOICE members. Our voter analysis includes metrics to assess the growing presence of Asian-American voters in their districts and their turnout in elections. MinKwon also conducts in-person surveys of voters on local issues and periodically provide analysis and press releases to Asian and general media on New York City's Asian-American electorate.
MinKwon organizes workshops to inform community members about the civic engagement process and candidate forums for community members to address their issues and concerns. We use op-eds in the Asian press, email alerts, and social media campaigns to keep our communities engaged. MinKwon provides in-depth information to APA VOICE on larger civic engagement topics such as the Voting Rights Amendment Act and policy changes to lobbying done by community-based organizations.
As the first Asian-American organization to engage in large-scale phone banking and door knocking in New York City, MinKwon maintains access to voter databases to analyze and focus on voters who haven’t voted in past elections in Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) efforts. We provide technical assistance and coordination to APA VOICE members during their GOTV efforts in their communities. During the 2016 and 2017 general elections, APA VOICE and MinKwon reached nearly 100,000 registered voters through focused door-knocking and phone-banking efforts.
MinKwon creates and distributes hundreds to thousands of voter and candidate information guides in English, Korean and Chinese for every primary and general election. We run the Korean Language Voter Hotline in New York City to assist voters on important election information, such as helping voters identify poll sites and obtain the status of their registrations. In response to requests from the New York City Board of Election Language Assistance Program, which had seen consistent shortages of Korean language interpreters in the past, we promote open positions for Korean interpreters via the press and our website, and sent several bilingual staff to fill these roles.
MinKwon and APA VOICE coordinates with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund to engage Asian-American voters in exit poll surveys on every election day in New York and New Jersey to track and ensure the protection of voters' rights. We survey voters on if they were able to identify themselves on the polling rosters, if the polling stations they went to had adequate resources and staff, and if they experienced any problems, delays, omissions or harassment.