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Introduction

Voting is a habit-forming practice. People who vote young tend to keep voting as they get older. Out of all eligible Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters, about a quarter are between the age of 18-30 – a significant share of the electorate. However, voter turnout from Asian American youth in 2022 still falls well below that of White voters, even though they are some of the most engaged in volunteering and other forms of involvement in the community.

APIAVote’s Youth Ambassador Program builds a national network of dedicated AAPI student leaders and organizations that amplify the message of civic engagement and political participation, and engage their peers in building power for their community. We believe that it is imperative that we work with AAPI youth across the United States, especially on college campuses, to engage and empower our community to participate in our democracy so we can best reflect the new American majority. APIAVote firmly believes that communities best represent themselves. This is why all of our Ambassadors are from existing AAPI student organizations on college campuses.

Modules

Be a part of our cohort of Ambassadors and help activate AAPI youth today! The introductory modules below will guide you through what is involved in being an APIAVote Youth Ambassador and help you prep for civic engagement activities.

national field program
2 minute video

Voter Registration & Volunteering 101

Learn how to go about planning and executing a voter registration drive on your campus.

Learn
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As you plan and build up your programming, remember that as Ambassadors and as representatives of APIAVote your campus activities must remain non-partisan in nature. To be clear, this should not hinder you as individuals to engage in the political process, but make sure that when you are speaking of your own opinion and not as a representation of APIAVote.

APIAVote Ambassadors CAN: 

  • Register eligible voters regardless of party affiliation
  • Register anyone regardless of race
  • Inform your community about their right to vote
  • Host candidate forums and town halls
  • Distribute educational materials about important issues 
  • Invite all eligible candidates to speak 
  • Urge folks to go out and vote on election day 
  • Provide rides to voters on election day 

APIAVote Ambassadors CANNOT: 

  • Endorse any particular candidates
  • Target voter registrations from particular parties
  • Tell individuals or your community who or what party to vote for
  • Make statements opposing political candidates or parties
  • Work with any single political parties for the purposes of planning a partisan activity
  • Allow political parties or candidates to distribute partisan campaign materials at your events. The exception is if the organization hosts an event such as a candidate forum where all viable candidates or political parties were invited to participate. 

 

Examples of Nonpartisan VR Activities

  • Asking “Are you registered to vote at your current address?”
  • Wearing a “Vote Like Your Life Depends Upon It” T-shirt while registering voters
  • Providing instructions on registering (even if that includes the need to declare party affiliation in states that require it)
  • Asking voters to take/sign a pledge to vote on Election Day *
  • Following back up with each applicant to ensure their application was processed 

Examples of Partisan VR Activities

  • Wearing candidate paraphernalia/slogans 
  • Wearing political party paraphernalia
  • Asking about one’s political party preference, membership, or who they plan to vote for
  • Criticizing/praising elected official who is also a candidate in the context of asking one to register to vote
  • Throwing away VR applications from people expressing support for one party/candidate
  • Providing misinformation to people who indicate support for one candidate/party
  • Suggesting who or what party to vote for when asked
  • Express advocacy “Vote Blue”, “Vote Trump”, “Defeat Trump”

** Reminder: It is illegal to give out freebies as an incentive to register to vote. So if you do give out freebies at your event, make sure that you and your volunteers let anyone get your freebies, regardless if they register to vote. To be safe, print out a sign that says that any freebies are open for anyone to take. **

Find a running list of acronyms and terminology that will be used throughout the training.

Campaign: a series of activities that work to accomplish a goal. It’s a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose. Campaigns must have clear objectives, deliverables, and SMART goals. 

Phases of Electoral Campaign

    • Voter Registration: is the process of successfully completing the application to be able to cast a ballot in an election. 
    • Voter Education: is the curricular and co-curricular activities offered to students and designed to facilitate civic learning, political engagement, and increase participation in elections. Voter Education happens simultaneously with registration and get out the vote efforts 
    • Get out the Vote: is a series of activities designed to increase voter awareness of an upcoming election and encourage voters to go to the polls, in person or through mail. 
    • Voter Access: is the act of expanding policies and laws that will make voting easier. This can look like removing voter ID laws, expanding early voting, and making voter registration easier. 

Advocacy: is an exercise in power that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. 

Activism: uses policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.  use of direct action to achieve an end, either for or against an issue.

Organizers: are those who bring people together. They organize people to address whatever emerges as the people’s priorities. The organizers focus on listening, building community, building trust and building respect. Organizers welcome conversation, strive for genuine diversity, push for distributed ownership of the group, and group process. Organizers default toward consensus, need to make sure all views are heard and want to keep everyone engaged.

Movement building: Is the effort of social change agents to engage power holders and the broader society in addressing a systemic problem or injustice while promoting an alternative vision or solution. Movement building requires a range of intersecting approaches through a set of distinct states over a long-term period of time

Power: is the capacity of individuals or groups to bring about change by: (1) influencing people, (2) affecting one’s environment, (3) addressing personal or group needs, (4) pursuing desires, (5) protecting interests, (6) defining issues, set agendas and expand or limit the scope of discussion, and (7) determining who can participate in decision making and how. Power is multi-dimensional and can be exercised by individuals, groups, organizations, and systems. Power is not a fixed asset that people possess. Rather, it is socially constructed, understood, and legitimized through social relationships among individuals and groups of people. 

Civic Engagement: is any act intended to improve or influence a community through deliberation, collaboration, and reciprocal relationships and community-building. 

Civic Learning: is promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning, and social responsibility.

Democratic Engagement: is a combination of promoting the education of students for engaged participation through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning, and social responsibility.

Political Engagement or Political Participation: is civic engagement that emphasizes governmental institutions and/or power (e.g., voting in a local, state, or federal election). Participating in the political process also occurs by making one’s own opinions and beliefs known outside of the electoral process (e.g., protesting, campaigning, performing jury duty, running for office, community organizing).

Base-building: is the process of organizing, recruiting and retaining people based off of shared interests to strengthen your organization for purposes of participating and implementing the needs and goals of the organization. 

Class Raps – are short one to two minute speeches before (ideally) or after class to talk about a particular ask, program, and/or organization. Class Raps are used in voter engagement to solicit students to either register to vote or sign a pledge to vote card. Class raps that are given enthusiastic introductions by their professor have received substantially higher percentages of completed forms than those who are not given any introduction.

Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) – is the term used to determine who is eligible to vote in any election by identifying all people who are of voting age (eighteen years old) and are a citizen of the United States.  Different organizations use different ways and terminology for determining eligible voters, and CVAP is one of the myriads of ways to identify eligible voters. 

Voter Turnout –is the percentage of registered voters who actually vote in any given election

Get Out the Vote (GOTV)efforts to encourage participation at the polls For turnout, determine how many AAPIs voted in the most recent comparable election

Target Voter Universe – is the main audience of voters that an organization focuses their efforts on. Calculating your target voter universe is achieved through identifying what communities in a particular geographic location your organization. 

Census – Constitutionally mandated effort to count every single person residing in the U.S. on April 1 every 10 years.