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Group hopes to reach Asian American and Pacific Island voters in Indiana

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum is spearheading a phone call effort this election season.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some might not have understood the words Daisy Anspach was speaking on the phone Wednesday night. She was speaking in Mandarin and doing her part to get out the vote in Indiana. 

The call was part of a phone bank, with callers speaking several Asian languages reaching Asian American and Pacific Islander voters in the Hoosier state. 

“Asian Americans are a smaller population but we’re also the fastest growing racial group in the United States,” said Ellen Wu, an IU History professor and also the director of Asian American studies for the university. 

Wu is part of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) a newly-formed group that’s been spearheading a phone call effort this election season, hosting more than a dozen via Zoom. 

“As far as we have been able to find out, neither of the major parties in the past have reached out to the Asian American community in Indiana, and that’s in terms of phone banking,” said the group’s co-chair, Shruti Rana, speaking to volunteers on Zoom. 

NAPAWF hopes that will change in future elections. 

It’s really important for the Asian American population in Indiana to feel like their voice is heard,” said group member Abby Ang, a graduate student at IU. 

So volunteers like Ang and Katherin Chi are listening to the issues that concern the people they’re calling. 

“Health care access, the economy, safety,” said Chi of the issues she’s hearing about. “We heard someone on Sunday saying that they’re really worried about education, in terms of the pandemic." 

“There’s often a sense of surprise, like, ‘Why are you calling me?  No one has ever called me like this before,’” Ang said she often hears in phone calls.

And while this election season might be the first  where voters in Indiana, received a get-out-the-vote call in Mandarin, Punjabi or Korean, NAPAWF says it won’t be the last. 

“I think the work we’re doing is both groundbreaking and critically important,” said Rana.

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