Advocacy groups register voters ahead of Friday's deadline

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Advocacy groups are working to help people sign up ahead of Friday's voter registration deadline.

Wednesday, Shruti Parikh, the South Asian Community Ambassador for North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) was outside Patel Brothers in Cary holding a registration drive.

"This is a pandemic year and so reaching people has been more of a challenge," Parikh said. "But just this past weekend, we've been able to register 40 new voters. And these are people that have either changed addresses or recently became citizens."

According to Pew Research, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing voter bloc in the country, more than doubling in size since the beginning of the century. In 2000, there were 4.6 million Asian Americans eligible to vote; in 2020, that number is greater than 11 million people.

"Forty percent of us voted in the last election that were registered to vote, compared to 53% of the population generally. So we want to make sure we build collective power," said Parikh.

While NCAAT is a non-partisan organization, there could be heightened interest in this year's presidential election as Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris is the first Asian American to be on a major party ticket.

RELATED: Triangle group works hard to up voter participation before registration deadline

With a sharp increase in absentee ballot requests this year, Parikh said the organization is tailoring some of their messaging.

"We're putting more effort and time into educating people about the proper process, making sure that ballots don't get challenged. And we see a lot of concern in the senior citizen community about that, and South Asians themselves are concerned," Parikh said.

So far, out of 394,825 accepted mail-in ballots, 2% are from Asian voters. Of the ballots sent in by Asian voters, 97% have been accepted.

NCAAT also worked to encourage people to take part in the 2020 Census, where North Carolina lags behind the national average in response rate.

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Ivan Parra, the lead organizer for the non-partisan North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations, is also hoping to see increases in voter registration and turnout.

"We're working through religious institutions, through soccer leagues, through non-profit institutions, through unions," said Parra.

Data from the Americas Society/Council of the Americas found the Latino voter registration rate in 2018 was just under 54% compared to 71% for their white counterparts.

"That requires lots and lots of conversation and exchange of information in their own language and in their own community," said Parra.

Like Parikh, Parra engages prospective voters in civic education.

"(We help) them make their own decision about who they're going to support in the upcoming election by making sure they have all the tools and all the information that is required, so they can exercise their right like anybody else," Parra said.

So far, the North Carolina Congress of Latino Voters has helped register about 1,500 people.

"We believe the Latino vote is going to be very influential," said Parra, about the growing population in North Carolina.

While Friday is the voter registration deadline, voters can still participate during same-day voter registration during early voting. To learn more about that process, click here.

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