Historic Quad-Partisan Presidential Election Forum Highlights Rising Influence of AAPI Vote

Bill Clinton, Sean Reyes, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein Aim to Win Votes From Fastest Growing Racial Group

LAS VEGAS – On Friday, Hillary Clinton surrogate and former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump surrogate and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein addressed more than 2,500 journalists and community leaders in the largest gathering of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the history of presidential campaign cycles.  

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), with 40 partner organizations, hosted this historic Presidential Election Forum in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, an election battleground state where nearly one in ten residents is AAPI.

“From Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent to Native Hawaiians, the AAPI community represents a heritage and history that spans the globe,” said APIAVote founding board member Daphne Kwok. “A recognition that this community is the lifeblood of our nation was cemented this week, as top campaign officials not only defined what AAPI meant to them personally, but also advanced discussions around how policies proposals from immigration and education to national security and trade are being focused on to empower the collective prospects of AAPIs across the country.”

During the forum, Rock the Vote announced its “Power Up” campaign, in partnership with APIAVote and youth organizations, focused on getting young AAPIs to vote. Congressman Mike Honda stated that 7,000 17-year-olds turn 18 every day. He also emphasized the power of AAPI voters to determine winners, particularly in six swing states and 85 congressional districts that are 10 percent AAPI.

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to grow from 20 million to more than 50 million by 2060. The rising influence of the AAPI community is evident in the past two election cycles, where the AAPI vote has been an important factor in election outcomes in key battleground states. In many of these states, the AAPI voter population either equaled or exceeded the margin of victory in previous presidential elections.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), pointed out that in 2010, Nevada Senator Harry Reid won re-election in a tight race with the support of nearly four in five AAPI voters who made up four percent of the electorate.

Data from APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets show that nearly half of all registered Asian American voters identify education (48%), healthcare (47%), national security (47%), and jobs (45%) as extremely important to how they cast their ballot — issues that the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party representatives addressed in the forum. This same block of eligible AAPI voters also represents vital margins in swing states across the country, holding the key to determining the winner of the Presidential election.

  • Arizona: 146,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3% of the electorate
  • Florida: 372,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.5% of the electorate
  • Michigan: 145,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Minnesota: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3.1% of the electorate
  • Nevada: 177,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 9% of the electorate
  • North Carolina: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Ohio: 127,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.3% of the electorate
  • Pennsylvania: 223,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.1% of the electorate
  • Virginia: 310,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 5% of the electorate

The historic forum plays a vital role in educating this segment of the electorate, ultimately empowering them to vote on Election Day and elevating their representative profile among national campaigns, voter mobilization programs, and global media outlets.

To access high-resolution photos from the event, visit here.

To access APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets, visit here.

A Word document press release can downloaded here.

Daphne Kwok Joins AARP as VP Asian Multicultural Markets & Engagement

aarpAARP on July 2, 2013, announced that it appointed Daphne Kwok as the new Vice President, Multicultural Markets and Engagement effective July 8. Daphne will lead AARP’s outreach to Asian Americans 50+.

“Daphne brings with her an extensive history of community activism and leadership in the Asian American and Pacific Islander American (APIA) communities,” said Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, AARP’s Executive Vice President, Multicultural Markets & Engagement. “We are very excited to have her return to Washington, DC and become part of our team.”


“I am honored to be joining AARP, an iconic national voice for 50+ individuals. Our APIA community needs to become a part of the AARP network so that we can benefit from the extensive resources and services. As our population grows, our 50+ segment grows, I look forward to focusing my work on empowering a revered part of our APIA family,” stated Daphne Kwok.

Her most recent appointment was by President Barack Obama in July 2010 to serve as Chair of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Ms. Kwok has also served as the Executive Director of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC) for the last five years. A non-profit based in Oakland, APIDC seeks to give a voice and a face to AAPIs with disabilities. Ms. Kwok has fought to break down the stigma in the AAPI community about disabilities and to provide technical assistance to organizations that want to effectively work with AAPIs with disabilities.

Prior to her tenure at APIDC, Ms. Kwok served as the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) in San Francisco from 2005-2007. At AIISF, she worked to preserve and restore the Angel Island Immigration Station and to promote the role that it played in shaping America’s past and present.

Ms. Kwok is also a former Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), where she focused on increasing political participation of the APIA community and working with API elected officials from school board members to Members of Congress. Prior to her services at APAICS, Ms. Kwok served for 11 years as Executive Director of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), a non-profit, civil rights organization with more than 10,000 members.

A graduate of Wesleyan University in East Asian Studies and Music, Ms. Kwok is the first Asian American to serve on its Board of Trustees.

APIAVote Presidential Town Hall on July 21

Join the conversation on Twitter with #apiatownhall. If you are unable to attend a viewing party, a livestream will be available. Watch the hashtag for details.

Thousands of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders and voters will participate in a presidential town hall forum sponsored by APIAVote at George Mason University in Northern Virginia on Saturday, July 21, at 3 p.m. ET.

Both President Obama and Governor Romney’s presidential campaigns have confirmed their participation. MSNBC anchor Richard Lui will moderate the forum while DNC Vice Chair Rep. Mike Honda represents Obama for America and former Rep. Tom Davis represents Mitt Romney for President.

Asian American and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing racial group in the nation, according to recent Census figures, and close elections in important states like Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida could go to candidates who best engage the group. Presidential town hall viewing events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

APIAVote executive director Christine Chen urged political leaders across the country to pay attention the demographic with increasing political clout.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander voters are still largely untapped by presidential candidates and their parties even though they are expected to vote in record numbers this fall,” said Chen. “Candidates and parties ignore Asian American voters at their own peril.”

President Obama addressed hundreds of minority leaders at the APAICS gala dinner in the nation’s capital and the NALEO conference in Florida this year. Governor Romney addressed minority leaders at the NAACP and NALEO conferences. Vice President Biden addressed minority voters at the NCLR conference in Nevada and also addressed the NAACP’s gathering.

Read more details here.

We Cannot Afford to Lose on Goodwin Liu, Ed Chen Judicial Appointments

If you ever want to see an Asian American appointed to the Supreme Court, join us now to support Goodwin Liu and Judge Ed Chen.

President Obama’s appointments of Judge Ed Chen to the federal district court and of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been held hostage by Senate Republicans for reasons that can only be described as petty politics. While these appointments certainly should not be rubber-stamped by the Senate, the appointments should at least be presented for a vote by the full Senate.

“A determined Republican stall campaign in the Senate has sidetracked so many of the men and women nominated by President Barack Obama for judgeships that he has put fewer people on the bench than any president since Richard Nixon at a similar point in his first term 40 years ago,” reported the Washington Post.

If we cannot support the President’s appointments of extremely qualified Asian Americans to the lower courts against political obstruction, how can we ever expect him to appoint an Asian American to the highest court in the land?

Several activities and events are in high gear this week to stress the importance of ending the Senate gridlock and obstructionism of these nominations.

Tuesday, September 21: “STICK” Up for Goodwin! Movement Meeting

Join David Biderman, Joan Haratani, Dale Minami, Edwin Prather, Priya Sanger, Malcolm Yeung and others on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at 12:00 noon, for a statewide coordinated event at the Law Offices of Edwin Prather, 461 Bush Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, to support the confirmation of Professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

In an effort to engage the grassroots, educate the mainstream about diversity on the bench, and change the media frame on Goodwin Liu’s nomination to the 9th Circuit, the Asian American Justice Center, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and local Asian Pacific American (APA) bar organizations have launched a “Stick” Up for Goodwin! initiative and companion website (http://www.confirmnow.org).

The website provides the story behind the initiative, the lack of APAs in the federal judiciary, why Prof. Liu is important to the APA community, and other action items such as the nomination of Magistrate Judge Edward Chen for the District Court in the Northern District of California. The website also offers social media tools and traditional action alerts to help engage community members, such as uploading photos on how the stickers are used to increase visibility for the “Stick” Up for Goodwin! initiative and to build momentum toward confirming Goodwin Liu, as well as Ed Chen.

A similar gathering takes place on the same day in Los Angeles: Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at noon, at Jenner & Block LLP, 633 West 5th Street, Suite 3500, Los Angeles (lunch and refreshments provided). RSVP to the LA event by emailing contactapaba@gmail.com.

Friday, September 24: Press Conference with Asian American Electeds on Judge Ed Chen’s Appointment

Chinese for Affirmative Action plans on holding a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to discuss Judge Ed Chen’s appointment to the federal district court and what steps members of the community can take to end the roadblock on the Senate vote on his appointment. More details will be published here when available.

Wednesday, September 29: Alliance for Justice Brown Bag Lunch Briefing on Judicial Nominations During the Obama Administration

This brown bag lunch briefing by Alliance for Justice will include information on what you can do to help ensure the swift confirmation of Goodwin Liu and Judge Edward Chen to the federal bench.  The gathering is on Sept. 29, 1:00p.m. – 2:30p.m., at Howard Rice, Three Embarcadero Center, Seventh Floor, San Francisco.

Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice president, will be the guest speaker. Light refreshments will be provided.

Senate Republicans recently prevented twenty-two out of twenty-six of President Obama’s judicial nominees from receiving an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor — despite the fact that the majority of those nominees have been waiting for several months and in two cases, a full year.  Two of those nominees, Goodwin Liu and Edward Chen, must now be renominated and reapproved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

During this brown bag lunch you will learn more about the status of judicial nominations during the Obama Administration, the lack of diversity on the federal bench (especially for Asian American judges), and what you can do to help ensure Goodwin Liu and Edward Chen receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.

RSVP here

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please sign a letter supporting Judge Chen on FairJudges.net and join other supporters of Goodwin Liu at ConfirmNow.org.

API Equality Groups Applaud Court Ruling Against Prop. 8

Today, federal district court judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California’s Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution in denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Civil rights and advocacy groups, including Asian and Pacific Islander (API) organizations and leaders, praised the judge’s decision. Today’s win is particularly gratifying for those in the API community who have been at the forefront of efforts to gain marriage equality both in California and nationally.

“API Equality-LA and our partner, API Equality-Northern California, applaud the judge’s meticulous and carefully reasoned decision that Proposition 8 violates the basic constitutional rights of lesbian and gay couples,” said Doreena Wong, Co-Chair of API Equality-LA. “The judge’s conclusions add to the growing consensus in courts and legislatures across the country that no good reasons exist for continuing to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Instead, the evidence and legal arguments showed that Proposition 8 harms loving gay and lesbian couple and their families, while helping no one,” added Heidi Li, API Equality-Northern California Steering Committee Member.

Judge Walker’s decision is important to Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) in California, where the more than 66,000 APIs who identify as gay or lesbian comprise the largest community of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) APIs in the United States, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

“Victories like today’s decision inspire important conversations about the harms of discrimination and the need for equality under law for all people,” said Tawal Panyacosit, Director of API Equality-Northern California. “But, we cannot rest on our laurels. These critical dialogues must continue, as we must also speak to the many other ways LGBTQI APIs are harmed by injustice, like Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, a same-sex Filipina couple who face continued threat of separation due to an unfair immigration system. We know from our years of work educating the API community about these issues that it is these discussions within our own communities that changes hearts and minds.”

Added Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, Director of API Equality-LA, “All across the nation, APIs have played an integral role in advancing the right of same-sex couples to marry-as plaintiffs, judges and witnesses in legal cases and as elected and community leaders in the court of public opinion. APIs personally know the history and impact of marriage discrimination and today, we cheer Judge Walker’s decision as being on the right side of history, where discrimination is overcome by justice and fairness.”

API Equality-Northern California is a coalition of Asian Pacific Islander (API) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) organizations and individuals serving Northern California.  API Equality-Northern California is dedicated to empowering community members, advancing civil rights protections, and promoting respect and understanding for cultural and community diversity.

API Equality-LA is a coalition of organizations and individuals who are committed to working in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities in Greater Los Angeles for equal marriage rights and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families through community education and advocacy.