Nov 20, 2020 1 min, 14 secs

In the 13 most contested presidential battleground states, AAPI early and absentee voting rose nearly 300 percent from 2016 — the fastest growth rate among all racial groups — according to the data firm Catalist.

In states like Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, the surge in AAPI early voting surpassed President-elect Joe Biden’s razor-thin margins of victory.

“It opened opportunities to not only encourage census completion but to learn more about the needs of individuals in those communities,” Richard Mui, the president of APIAVote-Michigan, said during a recent panel on AAPI voter turnout.

In Georgia, groups like Asian American Advancing Justice-Atlanta focused on fact-checking election misinformation, which proliferated on Asian messaging apps like WeChat and KakaoTalk, the group's executive director, Stephanie Cho, said during the panel.

Ultimately, Cho said, it’s the rise in young and first-time voters, politicized by current events, that transformed this year’s election, in which early votes exceeded total 2016 turnout by 59 percent.

In North Carolina, where Indians comprise one-quarter of a rapidly growing Asian population, South Asian women inspired by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris led a 30 percent surge in early voting, said Chavi Koneru, the co-founder and executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together.

Also like in 2016, Asian Americans reported more contact from Republicans than Democrats.

To ensure that elected officials at all levels of government care about AAPI issues, it’s incumbent on community groups to convert constituents into lifelong voters, said Chanda Parbhoo, founder of the Texas-based South Asian Americans for Voter Education Engagement and Empowerment

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