AAPI CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FUND BRIEF HIGHLIGHTS VOTE-BY-MAIL USE AND BEST PRACTICES HEADING INTO NOVEMBER
This brief discusses the use of Vote-by-Mail (VBM); offers a “gold standard” checklist for VBM legislation, administration, and campaigns; and provides two case studies on successful VBM practices by AAPI community organizations. With no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that AAPI and allied community organizations begin planning now to ensure they can organize around VBM policy and administrative opportunities, as well as prepare for their own VBM campaigns. The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund produced this brief to assist all organizations working to expand access to VBM, particularly in communities of color.
MORE LIBERAL VOTE-BY-MAIL POLICIES LEAD TO GREATER USE
For registered voters across all racial groups, the percentage who are habitual VBM users increases in states with more liberal VBM laws.
LESS THAN ONE-QUARTER OF AAPI VOTERS ARE HABITUAL VBM USERS
Twenty-three percent of AAPI voters nationwide are habitual VBM users, the highest rate among racial groups. While AAPIs lead the way, that is not enough. AAPI voters and voters of color would benefit from accelerated and expanded programs and policies facilitating their VBM usage, particularly during the pandemic.
Read the Full Brief Below
Debbie Chen of OCA – Greater Houston reflects on the challenges in making VBM available to voters in Texas
Denying Texans and Americans the Right to Vote by Mail is Wrong – Here is Why
Right now, there is a concerted effort by lawmakers, including some in Texas, to stop citizens from voting by mail – and it is all an attempt to suppress the vote in communities of color, including in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
What is happening in Texas offers a preview of the challenges Americans could face when they try to vote in the November elections. Texas primary elections are coming up July 14 in the midst of a global pandemic. Meanwhile, Texas state leaders continue their stubborn opposition to vote-by-mail, which would make voting safer for everyone. Under Texas’ current restrictive laws, mail-in ballots are available only if voters are 65 or older, cite a disability or illness, or will be out of the county during the election period.
A multiracial and nonpartisan coalition is pushing to ensure all Texans can vote by mail for the November elections. That includes Harris County, which surrounds Houston and has a population of more than 4.5 million people. We are doing this because what’s true in Texas is true across the country: vote-by-mail increases safety and convenience. Texas officials know this, too. As just one example, Senator John Cornyn has voted-by-mail numerous times, including for a general election.
Voters of color and AAPI voters would benefit from efforts to accelerate and expand vote by mail. A new brief [https://aapifund.org/report/vbm/] by the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund found that 23 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters nationally are habitual users of vote-by-mail, the highest among all racial groups. In contrast, less than 3% of AAPI voters in Texas regularly use mail ballots because of restrictive state laws.
Let’s get past the biggest (and most bogus) argument against vote-by-mail: the false claim that it could lead to voter fraud. Here is the reality: The United States has seen 143 convictions for fraud using mailed ballots — not in one year or five years, but in the past 20 years. That’s 0.00006 percent of total votes cast in that time. The bottom line: anyone who talks about vote-by-mail fraud as a big problem is, well, a fraud.
In contrast, the benefits of vote-by-mail are indisputable, particularly when it comes to making voting more accessible and convenient for all. It makes perfect sense that AAPI voters show a preference for using mail-in ballots.
The AAPI population is disproportionately limited-English proficient. Even if polling places make voting materials available in Asian languages (as many but not all communities are required to do), AAPI voters appreciate the ability to cast their ballot at home with language assistance from family members.
Texas and other states must adopt the “gold standard” practices that will encourage more people to take advantage of vote by mail, including a “no excuse,” permanent vote-by-mail option for all voters.
Other successful steps states and communities can take to increase vote-by-mail include: providing better language access, including multilingual educational materials on how and when to vote; mailing prepaid return envelopes; and allowing voters to turn in their completed ballot on election day at a voting center. Our research shows that the percentage of AAPI voters who use vote-by-mail increases in places that adopt these kinds of policies, and we’re sure the same is true among all population groups.
Whether in Texas or other states, those who are fighting vote-by-mail are on the wrong side of history, especially in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. For communities of color and all Americans, vote-by-mail provides a safe, preferred and accessible means of making sure our voices are heard at the ballot box.