Column: Our voices matter


Photo credit: Graphic illustration by Sydney Frank

Three girls stand together, adorning their new “I voted” stickers. The US midterm elections occurred on Nov. 8, and many swarmed to the polls to vote.

By Sydney Frank, Columnist

Screams of anticipation and occasional frustration echoed throughout my house on the evening of Nov. 8. My mother’s eyes were glued to the TV as we watched CNN reporters give live commentary on the state of our country’s politics, a sea of red and blue slowly creeping onto the map.

Nov. 8 marked the United States midterms for 2022. These elections occur every four years, in the middle of the president’s four-year term. During them, Americans vote for their representatives in Congress. Simultaneously, state and local elections occur, where individuals have the opportunity to vote for their state governor, city mayor and–in California, at least–state propositions.

Laura Barrón-López, the White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, says Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the country with about 23 million Americans identifying as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). She highlights how, in the past, our votes have been crucial in swing state elections, such as during the 2020 presidential election in Georgia as the number of AAPI votes increased by almost 62,000 in comparison to 2016.

With this information in mind, it is no secret that Asian Americans, in particular, should have had a huge impact on the 2022 midterm elections this year. With issues on the ballots ranging from climate change and healthcare to education, public safety and the economy, Asian Americans could very well determine the political makeup of our country.

So why are we still being ignored?

According to the Asian Journal, “AAPI voters are still largely ignored by political parties and organizations, rendering the diverse community underrepresented when it comes to policy decisions.” Although we have recently seen increased numbers of AAPI voters, historically, Asian Americans have been known to have low voter turnouts due to a lack of knowledge and awareness, whether it be because political information is not readily distributed in one’s first language or just politicians’ general disregard for the Asian demographic.

As a Korean American girl who cannot legally vote yet, this is frustrating. Living in Los Angeles and receiving a good education has been such a privilege because I am constantly made aware of what is happening in my community. But what about the people who do not have these luxuries? How will they be able to make educated, informed political decisions if major parties do not take the time to reach out to them? Politicians and the world seem to be much more invested in gaining the votes of white people, and minority groups are consistently left out of the loop.

As Democrats and Republicans have rallied across the country in the past few months, Asian Americans have taken matters into their own hands by looking inward to increase voter turnout. Organizations such as APIAVote and Asian American Power Network (AAPN) have worked tirelessly to motivate Asian Americans to exercise their right to vote, especially targeting areas that have extremely close races.

The Asian American community is divided between the Democratic party and the Republican party, but oftentimes, many feel that they do not inherently fit into either of these categories. Factors such as the anti-Asian sentiment that occurred during the pandemic and President Trump’s term and the overall diversity (in issues like education, class and culture) of AAPI voters are what make our votes so crucial in these elections.

Ultimately, as we wait for the last few 2022 midterm election votes to be counted and the Georgia runoff race, it is unacceptable for Asian American votes to be overlooked during the 2022 midterm elections and future elections. Our voices matter, and we have the power to truly make a difference in this country.