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Fil-Am Leaders Renew Voter Drive

Posted: Aug 09, 2012

DETROIT – Filipino-American community leaders at a national meeting vowed to register families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and newly-naturalized citizens and get them to the polls in November, in a renewed effort to take advantage of the growing numbers of Filipinos in the United States – 3.4 million, according to the 2010 Census.

Convening in the motor city for its 10th Empowerment Conference, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations is undertaking aggressive voter education and voter registration through its
six-year-old FilAm Vote projec, notably in states with large or fast-growing Filipino populations.

In Nevada, for instance, the number of Filipinos grew by 146 percent in 10 years. Other so-called battleground states, like Virginia and Florida, have drawn the attention of both national parties, noting the dramatic high-rate of growth of Asian Pacific American Islanders in this country.

“This was in the minds of our founding fathers when NaFFAA was formed 15 years ago,” said NaFFAA National Chairman Ed Navarra in his keynote address at the opening of the conference on Aug. 3. “An ethnic community that is able to translate its numbers into political muscle and influence national policies that affect our interests.”

So far, NaFFAA has fallen short of achieving its goal. “In the 2004 presidential elections, only 594,000 Filipino Americans voted -- a decline of 7 percent because 122,000 registered voters did not cast
their ballots,” said Gloria Caoile, former NaFFAA national vice chair and co-chair of FilAm Vote.

“It didn’t get any better in 2008," added. "Potentially, 40 percent of our total number can be mobilized to go to the polls. But we need to register them if they haven’t done so and educate them on issues that directly affect our community so they will appreciate what’s at stake,especially for our children and families.”

Energized by the day’s discussions, delegates caucused separately as Democrats and Republicans and mapped out strategies to mobilize their base. “But our common goal is to build political power for our community,” said Caoile. “So much is at stake that we can’t afford tosimply stand by and not be politically engaged.”

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