Our History

Since 1996, APIAVote has been at the forefront of a rising movement to ensure AAPIs are represented and heard, leading to historic voter turnout and advancing equity for AAPI communities. 

1996

1996

APIAVote was first conceived as a project at OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans) to increase voter participation around election times, as AAPIs were not voting at the same levels as other communities. Out of this foundation, a coalition called the National Asian Pacific Voter Registration Campaign (NAPAVRC) was formed. This was the first concerted effort to promote voter registration with AAPIs on a national scale.

  • Established the 1-888-API-VOTE hotline
  • First PSA targeting AAPI voters airs on television:

1996

2000

2000

At the same time, the AAPI community was growing and becoming more diverse. As a result we saw that reflected in the number of AAPI non-profit advocacy organizations being created at the national level. Global events such as rising US-China tensions and 9/11 played a part in negatively impacting AAPIs in the country and fomenting the “perpetual foreigner” identity in the minds of some of the public.
2000

2004

2004

APIAVote received initial investment from the Ford foundation to hire its first project manager while OCA served as its fiscal sponsor. By this year, only 35% of all Asians were registered, but numbers were growing. A poll conducted after the elections showed that 85.2% of registered Asian American voters participated that year.
2004

2007

2007

APIAVote spun off as a separate organization from OCA. Christine Chen is hired as the first Executive Director.

Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute (NYMLI) launches. The objective of NYMLI trainings is to increase the leadership and organizing capacity of the AAPI community by equipping leaders with the tools necessary to engage Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in successful electoral campaigns.

APIAVote joins Comcast-Time Warner and other organizations in the “Our Time to Vote” campaign, a $5 Million national multicultural Voter Education and Registration Campaign.

2007

2008

2008

APIAVote, in conjunction with the Ninth Annual Convention of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), hosted its first ever presidential town hall meeting at University of California Irvine’s Bren Event Center. The Town Hall participants included Hillary Clinton (by satellite), Barack Obama (by phone), and California Assemblyman Van Tran (standing in for John McCain, who was unable to attend the event), along with many other AAPI government and community leaders. 2,000 people attended the event.

APIAVote also kicks off its tradition of hosting gala receptions and briefings for the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.

APIAVote conducts caucus outreach program in Nevada, including participation in MSNBC debate through coordinating community audience participation.

During the 2008 elections, APIAVote and the partner network registered 18,000 new voters, sent out educational mailers to 100,000 AAPI voters, knocked on at least 10,000 AAPI household doors, had 85,000 live conversations, and robo-called 70,000 AAPI households.

Vida Benavides is hired as Executive Director of APIAVote.

2008

2009

2009

APIAVote holds debrief on the 2008 Election, held in conjunction with the Pearl Presidential Inaugural Ball, with session topics that focused on AAPIs’ roles in the election and framing the AAPI policy agenda.

APIAVote hosts the “The New Faces of Leadership”, highlighting new AAPI leadership in the current Obama administration. Secretary Norman Mineta held a discussion with Secretary Gary Locke (Department of Commerce), Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth (Department of Veterans Affairs), and Sonal Shah (Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation). The event was moderated by APIAVote Advisory Member and former CNN/CBS correspondent Joie Chen.

2009

2010

2010

The first effort to Get Out The Census to address a history of under-counting AAPI communities is implemented. This resulted in the first Census to show that Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the US.

APIAVote partners with the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU.org) National Board to tackle the problems of the AAPI undercount by promoting awareness of the Census, while also providing the technical support for students and their families to ensure that they are accurately counted. The 2010 Census showed that the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population grew by 46% since 2000, greater than any other major race group.

2010

2011

2011

Christine Chen returns as Executive Director of APIAVote

APIAVote releases 2011 Voting PSA: What Do You Want?

APIAVote honors Gary Locke on his next appointment as US Ambassador to China at DC event with 500 attendees.

2011

2012

2012

APIAVote receives $500,000 from the Coulter Foundation to subgrant to local and regional foundations for voter engagement work. The “Up for Grabs: America’s Swing Vote Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders” report is published in partnership with the Asian American Justice Center.

APIAVote launches the Asian American Voter Survey to gauge Asian Americans’ voting preferences for the upcoming election, and to address the void in polling data for the Asian electorate.

APIAVote hosts Presidential Town Hall, with DNC Vice Chair Rep. Mike Honda (representing President Obama) and former Rep. Tom Davis (representing Governor Mitt Romney). MSNBC anchor Richard Lui moderated the forum.

APIAVote holds receptions and electoral briefings at the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.

Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute (NYMLI) training programs expands to California, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Texas, Washington

The 2012 Election shows a 500,000 increase in AAPI voters compared to 2008.

2012

2013

2013

APIAVote, in partnership with AAJC and NAAS, releases “Behind the Numbers”, a post-election survey of Asian American voters.

APIAVote: Who We Are video is released:

2013

2014

2014

Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute training programs expands to 14 cities.

NYMLI Philadelphia multilingual training, conducted in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese and primarily training high school students

APIAVote releases State Fact Sheets, providing information on what the AAPI electorate looks like in partner states.

In conjunction with AAJC, APIAVote releases the 2014 Asian American Voter Survey on voting preferences and habits ahead of the midterm elections.

APIAVote launches “Turn Out For What” PSA series, featuring everyday people from the AAPI community.

APIAVote’s Young Voter Initiative, supporter student groups and community-based organizations with youth-led voter mobilization campaigns, expands to grantees in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Washington state.

2014

2015

2015

Taste of Democracy receptions and briefings held in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles, to celebrate the work of AAPI community organizers in voter engagement.

2015

2016

2016

APIAVote, in collaboration with AAPIData and AAJC, releases the 2016 Asian American Voter Survey, which polled 1,200 Asian American registered voters about their voting preferences.

APIAVote hosts Town Hall at Caesar’s Palace in Nevada, with former President Bill Clinton on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (on behalf of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump), Green presidential nominee Jill Stein, and Libertarian presidential nominee Governor Gary Johnson.

APIAVote holds briefings at the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.

APIAVote partnered with 31 local organizations across 25 states to register voters, educate low-propensity voters about the importance of their vote, and turn them out on Election Day. The voter contact program implemented through our partners sent mailers to 532,677 voters. In addition, the phone bank operations targeted 326,000 voters.

APIAVote launches television and online voter registration and get-out-the-vote PSAs targeting AAPIs, with a host of celebrity spokespeople, including John Cho, George Takei and more.

APIAVote launches informative Voting Rights PSAs in multiple languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese

2016

2017

2017

APIAVote launches its Youth Ambassador program to increase the electoral participation and civic engagement of young Asian American and Pacific Islanders, who have the lowest level of voter participation among all age groups.

The 2017 APIAVote Ambassador Summit is held for three days in mid-September and included 90 student ambassadors, 23 states, and 40 campuses coming together to cultivate their electoral organizing skills.

2017

2018

2018

NYMLI trainings are conducted in multiple cities across key states, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington

2018 Youth Leadership Summit is held for high school leaders in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland area to reflect on the significance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history, share emerging trends in AAPI communities, and develop concrete strategies to promote civic engagement.

APIAVote, in partnership with AAPI Data, releases the 2018 Asian American Voter Survey, revealing voting insights of the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, including their voting plans for House and Senate races in 2018, and various issue priorities such as education, health care, and the state of the economy.

2018

2019

2019

APIAVote, along with several partners, hosts Congressional Reception to highlight the leadership of AAPI members of Congress.

APIAVote amps up its campaign to get AAPIs to participate in the 2020 US Census and to prepare for the 2020 elections. “The Power of Being Counted” workshops are held ahead of the count to introduce and emphasize the unique challenges of the 2020 census, outline the need for an accurate count of the AAPI community, and provide a general overview of how census data is collected and what the data is used for.

APIAVote conducted over 50 NYMLI regional trainings across the country, attaining a record number of in-person trainings.

2019

2020

2020

APIAVote implements the 2020 US Census “Get Out The Count” campaign, with multiple trainings, workshops and awareness drives to encourage AAPIs to participate in the Census count.

APIAVote hosts the 2020 Presidential Town Hall, with Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, Eddie Baza Calvo (Trump campaign surrogate and Former Governor of Guam), as well as Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizers and community leaders. Amna Nawaz, PBS NewsHour senior national correspondent, and Vicky Nguyen, NBC News Investigative & Consumer Correspondent moderated. The virtual town hall is watched by 1.1 million viewers.

APIAVote’s multi-touch voter engagement strategy reaches over 700,000 AAPI eligible voters. This included language specific “Reclaiming Your Voice” mailers and 33 days of phone and text banking.

APIAVote reaches over 3 million AAPIs through a nonpartisan digital ad campaign to increase voter awareness and mobilization.

The “Your Vote Your Voice” PSA series launches, featuring 26 prominent Asian American celebrities aimed to help voters make a voting plan, know your voting rights, and combat disinformation around voting and the elections.

Of the AAPIs reached through the multi-touch voter engagement strategy, 75% turned out to vote – 15 percentage points higher than the national turnout rate of 59.7%. Of those who voted, in the 2020 election, 7 out of 10 AAPI voters voted early or by mail.

2020

2021

2021

APIAVote collaborates with partners in 12 states to host state-specific / AAPI-targeted redistricting trainings as part of its Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute.

APIAVote and other AANHPI leaders meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss voting rights, anti-Asian hate, immigration, and economic opportunity.

A total of $180,000 in subgrants are given to 11 community partners to offset the cost of building program infrastructure to engage with the redistricting process in their respective states.

Translated mailers are distributed to 21,589 households and 2.5 weeks of text and phone banking are conducted to do voter education and GOTV for the local and state-wide races.

APIAVote implements COVID public health campaign, reaching over 1,500,000 Asian Americans in 46 states via phone and text banking, with support from TD+W and HHS, to promote vaccine and COVID public health messaging.

Disinformation and Misinformation Monitoring is launched to analyze disinformation trends as they pertain to voting rights, elections, democracy, anti-Asian hate, and other potential narratives about our communities.

2021

2022

2022

APIAVote launches #AAPIsForVotingRights campaign to increase awareness on the importance of voting rights in the AAPI community. Virtual briefings with members of Congress, state legislators and community leaders are held to discuss the state of voting rights and actions to take.

2022