Advancing Justice - LA pursues the full participation of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities in California democracy by conducting electoral campaigns, advocacy on voting rights and election policy, and community education, organizing, and capacity-building.
Advancing Justice - LA does this work to help Asian American and NHPI communities, in solidarity with other underserved communities, to build power and use it to counter the political marginalization that they face. This marginalization occurs, for example, when elected representatives fail to address the policy needs of underserved communities or when they face ballot measures that undermine opportunity and equity or attack rights and liberties.
Advancing Justice - LA’s “Your Vote Matters!” is a continuing, nonpartisan project to empower and mobilize community members to make their voice heard at the ballot box. Through multilingual phone calling, mailers, and media outreach, Your Vote Matters! reaches voters in 15 different languages and from nine ethnicities in Southern California: Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, South Asian, Thai, and Vietnamese. In the November 2012 election, the campaign championed support of Proposition 30 and partnered with other organizations to create the first-ever AAPI Statewide Voter Guide. In the Los Angeles City municipal elections in 2013, the campaign coordinated candidate questionnaires, conducted canvassing in Chinatown, and co-hosted candidate forums. The Your Vote Matters! campaign builds on this success by reaching voters with multilingual and culturally competent voter engagement efforts for the June and November elections in California.
In some Asian American communities, over 50 percent of voters use some form of language assistance to vote. Fortunately, in California, beginning in 2014 three new developments will help those not fluent in English with the voting process: (1) the ability to register to vote online in Asian languages, (2) additional language assistance at the polls, and (3) the ability of lawful permanent residents to be poll workers. In anticipation of these developments, Advancing Justice - LA has released a toolkit that can be used by groups interested in getting the word out and ensuring that counties are taking advantage of and complying with the new laws. Advancing Justice - LA is also seeking full and fair implementation of these developments through advocacy and community outreach.
Ongoing Voting Rights and Community Engagement Work
In addition to the initiatives highlighted above, Advancing Justice - LA’s Democracy Project carries an ongoing portfolio of work to promote democratic participation by politically marginalized communities:
Bilingual voting assistance: Through education, advocacy, and litigation, Advancing Justice - LA ensures that counties and cities provide written and oral assistance in certain Asian languages, as required by laws such as Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act. For example, during major elections, Advancing Justice - LA works with individual volunteers and community-based organizations to monitor poll sites for Section 203 compliance.
Other voting rights: Advancing Justice - LA also advocates on other issues affecting voting rights and access to the polls, such as voter registration, voting machines, identification requirements, and election structures that dilute the impact of underserved communities’ votes.
Community engagement and capacity-building: Advancing Justice - LA conducts an annual organizing academy to train aspiring leaders how to educate and mobilize their communities to build political power and win progressive policy change.
Grassroots organizing: Advancing Justice - LA supports community-led, ground-up efforts to build multi-racial coalitions and hold elected representatives accountable to the needs of underserved communities in the San Gabriel Valley and other Southern California areas.
Redistricting: Every 10 years, following the decennial census, electoral districts from the city to the congressional level are redrawn. Through the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting (CAPAFR), Advancing Justice - LA has played a leading role in ensuring that the voting power of Asian American and NHPI communities is respected during the redistricting process, as well as helping Asian Americans and NHPIs to build coalitions with other stakeholders including other communities of color. For example, in 2011, Advancing Justice - LA and CAPAFR educated and organized Asian Americans and NHPIs around the state to advocate that new state legislative districts be drawn more fairly, resulting in significant positive changes for Asian Americans and NHPI voters in several areas of the state.