Why the Fil-Am vote could be a swing vote

NEW JERSEY – With the 2016 presidential elections underway, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations or NaFFAA, together with Fil-Am community leaders in New Jersey are rocking the “Fil-Am Vote.”

Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro said, “Your actions and your involvement in this Fil-Am vote, in getting our communities empowered, and participating in the the process is critical, I hope it’s a productive kickoff. Lets register a lot of voters.”

The “Fil-Am Vote” is a national program launched over the weekend that aims to register, educate, and urge qualified Filipino American voters to cast their ballots come the November election.

NaFFAA National Chair JT Mallonga said, “The goal is actually not just to encourage each and everyone to register and vote but also so that our numbers can be translated into political action.”

Asian Americans, including Filipino Americans, helped re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012.

In a 2012 exit poll study made by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund or AALDEF, 77 percent of Asian Americans voted for Obama while 21 percent  voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

While 65 percent of Fil-Ams who cast their ballots voted for Obama, 32 percent voted for Romney.

But Eric Salcedo of Asian and Pacific Islander Vote says Filipino Americans are under-registered.

“Unfortunately in our community, there’s a voter registration gap and we are under-counted. For example, in New Jersey alone, in the voter file, we only have 31,149 Filipino American voters, but we know there are more than that,” according to Salcedo.

Mallonga says, in order to bridge that gap, Filipino community leaders have to organize and mobilize a “get out and vote” campaign.

“Let’s say in Jersey City, all Fil-Am orgs should come together. They put up a committee, they come up with a field plan, they elect a committee chair, and then implement that,” Mallonga said. “NaFFAA will help you.”

Salcedo says, simply asking people about their plans on election day could help more Pinoys to go out and vote.

Salcedo said, “If they knew where the polling place was and what their plan was to vote on election days, studies have shown when you ask someone to start thinking about that, they’re more likely to go out and vote.”

Fil-Am Vote organizers say there are about 2.8 million potential Filipino American voters, based on the latest US census.

The challenge now is to get most of these registered Fil-Am voters and make sure they show up and cast their votes at the right polling places in November.

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