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The Forgotten Vote: Crunching the Numbers

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

If you're reading this article right now, whether it be on an iPhone, iPad, desktop computer, laptop, or any other type of tablet (God forbid it to be an Android), then I congratulate you. Congratulations. You have chosen to engage in politics in some fashion, a choice different from over 33% of Americans in 2018.

With the diverse range of beliefs and policies that each potential candidate brings into an election, the act of voting is one of the most critical actions a citizen can take toward advocating from the change that they want in their country. A significant 70% of Americans believe that high voter turnout is critical toward accurate and fair elections. However, this essential right is not frequently exercised. This issue is even more prominent in the Asian American Community, one of the fastest-growing racial minorities in the US, with projections of being more than 10% of the voting population by year 2044.

In recent history, Asian American voter turnout and registration have been egregiously low. Pew Research found that in the 2016 election, about 61.4% of eligible voters cast ballots. Out of these ballots, Asian Americans consisted of only 3.6% of these ballots. This alone is not a cause for concern, as Asian Americans only consist of 5.8% of the total US population, in comparison to 18.3% of the population for Hispanics and 13.4% of African Americans, meaning a low share of total votes is not a determinant of lack of political engagement. A low share of total votes is natural, given that Asian Americans consist of a smaller share of total population than other races.

The problem lies, rather, in actual voter turnout, and not just in a percentage of total votes. According to an analysis by Pew Research, voter turnout of eligible Asian voters was only 47%. This means that out of all Asian Americans above the age of 18, only 47% voted. This is lower than other minority groups. In comparison, voter turnout for non-Hispanic whites was 64%, Black voter turnout was 67%, and Hispanic voter turnout was 48%. Pew Research also found that only 49.3% of eligible Asian American voters voted. (This is distinct from voter turnout, which is calculated based on votes/number of people above voting age). To make the voter turnout statistics slightly more clear, we’ll go ahead and do some calculations. According to an estimation by the Census Bureau, in 2016, 245.5 million Americans were eligible to vote. With the 61.4% statistic, we get about 150 million votes, close to the tallied number of votes, 136.8 million. Factoring in the fact that 3.6% of the total share of votes was by Asian Americans, the Asian American vote comes to around 4.9248 million votes. The population of the US in 2016 was 323.4 million. According to the Census Bureau, 18.6% of the population is below 18 years old. This means there are about 60.1524 million minors in the US. Among these minors, in 2010, about 4.6% were of Asian ethnicity. This means that there are about 2.767 million Asian American children, leading to about 14-15 million Asian American US residents above the age of 18. Though these are rough estimates, and despite not being fully similar to the results by Pew Institute, the extremely low vote to eligible voter ratio is alarming, and shows the trend of the Asian American political disconnect. If that isn't enough, in the 2008 election, the voter turnout rate for Asian Americans was only 32.1%.