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Asian American, Latinx voting organizations pushing for more engagement before Senate runoff

The runoff election between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is will take place Tuesday Dec. 6.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Around 50 volunteers were gathered in the lot of Peachy Corners Cafe Sunday morning. The combined event between the Asian American Advocacy Fund and Indian American Impact was a kickoff to a canvassing event ahead of Tuesday's runoff election.

"We are organizing in the South Asian and Asian-American communities to vote," Neil Makhija told 11Alive's Karys Belger. 

Makhija is the executive director of Indian American Impact. The organization was designed to "organization dedicated to building Indian American political power, investing in Indian American candidates, and enfranchising the growing Indian American electorate," according to their website. 

A report from AAPI Data last year showed that Asian voter turnout in Georgia doubled between 2016 and 2021. The Georgia Secretary of State's website reported AAPI voters made up about 1.8 percent of early voter turnout. Makija believes the energy that has been growing over the last few years will come to fruition on Tuesday. 

"What we've seen in recent years is that we've had an exponential growth in the number of AAPI elected officials nationwide, and that's inspired a lot of members of our community to participate," he said. 

This is why, he said, knocking on doors and making sure voters have a plan and are aware of what they need to vote is key. 

The latest 11Alive Survey USA poll, released Thursday, shows Democratic incumbent candidate Sen. Raphael Warnock with a four point lead of his Republican challenger Herschel Walker. 

Georgia's AAPI population is not the only voter block that could have an impact by the runoff. Alejandro Chavez, the deputy director of GALEO, said the organization strives to increase civic engagement in Georgia's Latino, Latina, and Latinx communities. 

"When people hear from us, some people have been," he said. "No one's contacted me before."

Chavez said his organization often encounters voters who have not been engaged with because people don't have a full understanding of how to approach his community. 

"Every issue is a Latino, Latino community, whether it be education, whether it be economics. Yes, immigration as well, as well as abortion," he said. "And any other issue that is important to the community matters to us. And we care about that."

He believes his community could have a major impact in the runoff, but roadblocks can happen when outreach is not consistent or culturally competent. 

"I think some of that can be the challenge as well. I also think that a lot of times people may take our participation for granted," he said.

Our 11Alive poll indicated 20% of Latin and Hispanic voters will probably not vote or are 50/50 on voting. Roughly 9% of voters in Georgia are Hispanic and fewer voters turned out in early voting as of Thursday.

"I think what's missing from the conversation is people think there's a silver bullet," he said. "They think, ooh, I'm going to put things in Spanish and everybody's going to get it."

When asked why, Chavez explained there are a variety of reasons, but he has encountered people who are eager to vote and plan to do so once they have the information needed to make that plan. 

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