Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau released their report on the Current Population Survey November Voting and Registration Supplement, that studies demographic voter turnout in the most recent presidential election cycle.
The big news from this report was that for the first time ever, African American voter turnout rate exceeded the white voter turnout rate—66.2% versus 64.1% for a presidential election and increased from 2008 to 2012. However, what got lost in this news was that although Asian Americans did vote at the highest percentage to re-elect President Obama than any other group at 73% , was that Asian Americans also have the lowest voter turnout amongst all races, at 47.3% of registered Asian American voters (2nd lowest was Hispanics at 48%). But I guess this is old news after the four presidential election cycles.
This is not big news to me anymore. When I first got involved in 2004 by volunteering in politics, I was shocked to see that lack of Asian American volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area (which overall, is approximately 25% Asian / Asian American demographically – of course, not all are U.S. citizens). I was also saddened in 2008, when I blogged, San Mateo Presidential Straw Poll – Where are you Asian-American? That is one of the major reasons I am so involved, interested and blog about politics – to compensate to some degree the lack of involvement of other Asian Americans who are not interested, involved and as well, who don’t sadly, don’t vote. As Disgrasian.com would put it, Asian Americans who are eligble to register but aren’t and those who are registered but don’t vote, “You’re a disgrace. To the race.”
If you look into the details of the report (.pdf), in 2012, Asian Americans constituted 3.8% of the entire eligible electorate and 2.9% of the voting age population. It’s not surprising that in a presidential election where there is an incumbent president running for re-election that voting rates (except for African Americans) were down.
For me, there is almost nothing more important being a citizen in a democracy than exercising your right to vote. With rights, there comes responsibilities, and I think citizens should exercise their right (and in my opinion, responsibility) to vote. If you have complaints about your local, county, state or national politics and government and don’t vote, you have no right to complain!
Demographically, according to Pew and other studies, Asian Americans are the most educated and the most affluent, and these attributes usually correlates to higher voting rates – but apparently not for Asian Americans. I find this really sad and pathetic and demonstrates our apathy. As Asian Americans are not involved in our country through our fundamental right to vote, is it no wonder why we may be portrayed as “perpetual foreigners?” Maybe there are a lot of Asian Americans like the ones that Akrypti has described in her post, What It Means To Be a U.S. Citizen (which I whole heartedly agree with), but I can’t imagine enough to explain the difference between Asian Americans and non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.
And this doesn’t just bother me for Asian Americans. One of the major reasons why I found former CEO of eBay Meg Whitman’s run for Governor of California in 2010 so pathetic was that she had rarely voted in her entire adult life. Why would anyone bother to vote for Whitman for the highest public office in California if she didn’t even bother to vote herself?
I encourage all U.S. citizens, if you’re eligible to register to vote, please register (i.e. 18 or older). If you’re registered to vote, please vote! Otherwise, why bother living in a democracy since voting is the purest expression of what a democracy is all about.