IIT graduate leads drive to get Asian-Americans to vote

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Asian-Americans have the lowest level of participation among all ethnic groups in U.S. politics, and an initiative led by Shekar Narasimhan, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi, has been trying to change that.
Launched four months ago, the Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Victory Fund has a grand vision overall but modest objectives for the current election cycle — reach out to as many members of the community as possible in six States where a few thousand votes can make the difference.
“If we manage to increase the voter participation of Asians in these six states — Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida — by just five percentage from the last cycle, we will be the margin of victory,” explained Mr. Narasimhan.
Low voter turnoutAAPI population in the U.S. is 19.4 million, according to calculations based on the 2012 census.
Of this, 13-14 million are eligible to vote, but only 56 per cent of them are registered. In the last election cycle, only 3.9 million voted. “Only half of them, which is much below other communities in terms of participation. The primary reason is that nobody reaches out to them,” said Mr. Narasimhan.
A recent survey of AAPI population bears this out. It found that Asian-Americans are the least likely to be contacted by a political party or community organisations.
AAPI Victory Fund seeks to change the situation, and gradually make the community an influential voice in American policymaking.
Mr. Narasimhan says within his first years in the U.S., he realised that “much like [in] India, influence mattered”. After a management degree from the University of Pittsburgh, he began working on a rural planning project in Kentucky, and his role required him to coordinate with the federal administration in Washington.

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