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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The UCLA Asian Pacific American Voter Registration Study


Asian Pacific American political involvement is not a new phenomenon, but it has clearly become a significant focus of attention for the Asian Pacific American population. Perhaps at no other period in Asian Pacific American history have so many individuals and organizations of different issue orientations participated in a wide array of political activities, especially in relation to American electoral politics, but also in the affairs of the Pacific Rim. At the same time, what has come to be taken as a quite expected occurrence in Hawaii, namely the election of Asian Pacific Americans to public office, has suddenly become a less than surprising novelty in the Mainland states with the election and appointment of Asian Pacific Americans to federal, state, and local positions in California and elsewhere. Most importantly, perhaps, Asian Pacific Americans have demonstrated that they, too, have resources and talents--financial, organizational, and otherwise--to advance their specific concerns in a host of political arenas, and to confront political issues and actions which are potentially damaging to their group interests and welfare. After decades of being politically disenfranchised because of laws preventing the naturalization of the pioneering immigrant generation, Asian Pacific Americans are now seeking access to major political institutions of our nation.

In many respects, our scholarly attention to this major community development has been extremely limited. Aside from the biannual Asian Pacific American National Roster: A Listing of Major Asian-Pacific American Elected and Appointed Officials, which is published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the occasional newspaper articles on the subject, we lack both empirical data and theoretical perspectives for assessing recent Asian Pacific American political activities, especially electoral involvement. In an effort to rectify this glaring gap in our knowledge about the contemporary Asian Pacific American experience, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Los Angeles, with funding and support from the Southwest Voter Registration Project of San Antonio and the Research Committee of the UCLA Academic Senate, sponsored this study of the voter registration and political party affiliation patterns of Asian Pacific Americans in Los Angeles County.

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