This New App Aims to Help Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders Vote

By Kenrya Rankin Aug 13, 2015

An app in development wants to help get more Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) to the polls for the 2016 election.

VoterVOX, created by nonprofit 18 Million Rising, aims to connect eligible AAPI voters with multilingual volunteers who can help them push past language barriers to do everything from finding their polling place to understanding and completing the ballot. The interpretation work happens in person, and the volunteers then upload their translations to the app to help others in the same municipality.

Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act calls for translated ballots and voting materials for those who need them, but it only applies to districts with 10,000+ people who identify as limited-English proficient within a particular language group—and that group must account for more than five percent of all voting age citizens in the area. The result is that many people are left without the resources they need to vote their issues. Section 208 allows those voters to seek help at the polls. That’s where VoterVOX enters.

“Nearly half of all adult AAPIs are not comfortable in English (the technical term is limited English proficient), and I want the other 50 percent of us to take initiative in helping them participate fully in civic life,” 18 Million Rising director, C.M. Samala, told NBC News

Developers are hoping to launch the app in January 2016. At press time, the campaign had raised nearly $2,500 of its $50,000 goal. Click here to learn more.