The Girl Scouts’ motto, “Always Be Prepared,” is a good tenet for all Americans to follow, especially with racial turmoil and a big election around the corner. Asian Americans have the lowest voter registration rates compared to any other racial demographic despite the fact that we’re the fastest-growing racial group. The first time I worked at the polls was when I was 16. It is a great opportunity for students; not only did it pay, but it also gave me some work experience and demonstrated to others that
I cared about my community. This column shares some helpful ways in which you, too, can be prepared.
Things You Shouldn’t Procrastinate:
Step 1: Make sure you’re registered to vote, and if you’re a college student or young professional working away from home, make sure your absentee ballot is going to the right address.
Step 2: Make sure others with similar interests or those who may be underrepresented are registered to vote (host a voter registration drive — make sure you get the proper training and certification to do this).
Step 3: Become an election judge or official watcher and keep the elections fair. Find out how to do this by visiting your state’s election website. Report issues with voting to the authorities and civil rights organizations immediately.
Step 4: Find out about laws that may keep you from voting. According to an article published by the
Washington Post in October 2014, “One-fifth of the 40 states will be requiring some form of ID at the polls . . . seven are requiring photo ID” (in regards to the 2014 elections).
Step 5: If you’re on the fence about whom you are voting for or what your beliefs are, then set time aside to figure them out. Research candidates and subscribe to news outlets that are unbiased and trustworthy.
Step 6: Volunteer for a campaign, your party or for issues on the ballot that are important to you. For those of you on the younger side, this can help you gain professional skills and grow your network. If you’re retired, this is a great way to donate your time to a worthy cause.
Step 7: Donate or help with fundraising. If you’re young, this may be difficult, but volunteering at fundraising events will help you gain experience and face time with influential people in your community.
Step 8: Show up! If you’re mailing in your ballot, make sure you read the directions carefully and mail it in on time.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, APIA Vote and the League of Women Voters are great resources to get you through the steps above.
Rhianna Taniguchi is an Account Executive at the Denver Post. She was the 2014 JACL Norman Y. Mineta Fellow.