Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants now have an easily available tool to help them vote this presidential election. Its name is VoterVOX, and it is an app that the online advocacy organization 18MillionRising.org launched today (September 27).
The app works by connecting multilingual AAPI volunteers with AAPI registered voters who have limited English proficiency. The volunteer meets with the voter to explain their ballot. The volunteer can also upload translated material (like voting and ballot information) to the app for other users to read and build on. The main point of the app is not the uploaded material, which 18MillionRising doesn’t fact check, but the in-person interaction between voter and volunteers who can answer basic questions.*
“Our goal is to make our democracy accessible to every voter, in every language” said Cayden Mak, the organization’s executive director, in a statement sent to Colorlines. “There is a critical translation need that isn’t being met by our current institutions and infrastructure, and too many Asian-American immigrant voters are in essence being disenfranchised. VoterVOX helps ensure that everyone who wants to vote has the ability to cast a ballot.”
18MillionRising.org is anticipating that the app will serve 1,000 voters in Minnesota and 1,500 in California. This is a small portion of the more than 20 million Asian- Americans who call the U.S. home, but it is a step—especially given the 100+ languages and dialects AAPI people speak. The app will also offer other languages like Spanish and Arabic.*
A statement sent to Colorlines read:
Two-thirds of the AAPI electorate are immigrants, and AAPI voters are three times more likely than Latin[x]s to report that language barriers prevented them from voting. According to National Asian American Survey data, 77 percent of those voters say they would use in-language tools, if they could get them, when they register to vote or cast a ballot.
This group of Americans had the lowest voter turnout rate in the 2012 presidential election—47 percent—but they’ve been working to increase it. Since 2012, 60 percent of new Asian voters were immigrants who naturalized to vote, according to the Pew Research Center, helping this year’s election to become the most diverse in U.S. history.
*Post has been updated since publication for clarity.