Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, implementing the promise of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution that voting rights cannot be “denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act calling it “open participation in the political process”. A 25-year extension was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, overturning the Bolden ruling and a second amendment which granted the rights for assistance in voting to the blind, illiterate and disabled. After the 1990 Census, the number of Black and Latino representatives in Congress increased dramatically. Today, there are moves to develop a new formula for modernizing the Voting Rights Act.
However, Asian American voters are falling behind the pack:
Asian American voter registration rates are at the lowest of all voting groups. Each year, Asian Voters report that poll workers are hostile to them, expressing concerns over racial subjugation and discrimination. As the largest growing racial group, voter turnout rates were the lowest in the 2014 elections.
Nevertheless, Asian Americans need to be informed about voting issues.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, here are three ways that you, and the Asian American community can become civic leaders:
- Take part in voter registration drives – ASIA, Inc. conducts voter registration tables across the State of Ohio each year from August to October
- Promote awareness through canvassing actives like phone-banking and door-knocking – Want to take part? Join ASIA! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Volunteer as a bi-lingual poll worker, provide transportation, participate in election day reminder initiatives – Contact your local BOE to sign up as a poll worker, and be sure to contact ASIA to help bring up voter turnout rates!