Fil-Ams for Biden-Harris pose in front of the iconic Las Vegas sign | Contributed photo

IN the remaining days until November 3, there may not be as many in-person meriendas or aggressive canvassing at local supermarkets to get out the vote, but Filipino American leaders in Clark County are using the final moments to ensure record community turnout.

This comes as Fil-Ams are the largest Asian American group in Nevada, where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up 11% of the electorate. And also, as 77,400 eligible Asians remain unregistered to vote, according to a recent analysis from New American Economy.

Community leaders continue to use creative methods in the “new normal,” like virtual kwentuhans (conversations) and in-language phone banking to double down on the message that AAPIs, and Fil-Ams especially, can help influence the presidential race and other key contests in battleground states like the Silver State.

“Nevada is going to be such a pivotal swing state that we need to really send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House,” Dan Santos, chair of the state’s AAPI Democratic Caucus, said during a kwentuhan on Wednesday night, October 28. “A big part of that aspect relates to this concept of kwentuhan— that means having conversations about voting and about the important issues that are impacting our community. These are conversations that span generations and span zip codes.”

Headlining the event was Pinay scientist-rapper Ruby Ibarra who made a pitch for the community, specifically the Gen Z and millennial segments, to vote.

Pinay scientist-rapper Ruby Ibarra headlined a virtual GOTV concert and kwentuhan event on Wednesday night, October 28 hosted by the AAPI Democratic Caucus of Nevada.

“People may have some reluctance or hesitation. You have these conversations over and over again, especially in our community, where people ask: ‘Does my vote really count? Does this system actually work for us?’ Look y’all, at the end of the day, voting may still result in some tangible change, but not voting will result in exactly that: nothing,” Ibarra said.

Community leader Gloria Caoile; Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada’s 3rd congressional district; Rep. TJ Cox of California’s 21st district; Sabrina Javellana, half-Filipina vice mayor of Hallandale Beach, Florida; and Daly City, California Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo also spoke at the event.

“Who we vote into office is yes, a face for this country, but whoever that person is will also shape the rhetoric, the behaviors, and the attitudes of its citizens,” Ibarra said.

Wednesday night was the culmination of voting-related events during Filipino American History Month, which began with a Kamayan Zoomustahan that featured speeches from Nevada’s elected officials and invited families to connect on Zoom over a Filipino meal.

“The fact that Nevada’s members of Congress participated in our Kamayan is a testament to the power of the Fil-Am community,” said Margie Llorente-Gonzales, who organized the updated kamayan feast and is a state co-chair of Filipino Americans for Biden-Harris.“This is a historic time for us, and they were with us because they care and want our voices to matter.”

‘Four more years’

Representing the other side, a group of Fil-Am supporters from Nevada and other swing states, under “the Fil-Am Voice” moniker, gathered at Cafe de Manila in Las Vegas on Friday, October 23 for to deliver a unified “endorsement of President Donald Trump.”

“We love our family. We love our faith. We love our freedom. We love the American Dream. That’s why our ancestors and some of us in this room came to America. And who’s fighting for that? President Trump,” Tiana Elisara, a 23-year-old who traveled from Hawaii, said in an impassioned plea as she shared her story as a former Democrat. “I’m pleading to those who are watching, especially the younger generation, not to use your emotion but to look at the things President Trump is doing that represents our culture and people.”

“Fil-Ams for Trump” came together at Cafe de Manila in Las Vegas on Friday, October 23 to reinforce their support of the president. | Contributed photo

Speakers attending virtually —  including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Vellie Dietrich-Hall, an advisory member of Asian Pacific Americans for Trump — continued to hone in on the cultural values of being faithful and hardworking and gave testimonials of how the past three years have been.

“It’s a call of arms instead of ideas. Our weapons are our principles, our values, our vision. We need you to join your voices with ours so that we as Filipino Americans can truly awaken the sleeping giant…We need to get out of our comfort zones and talk to those who may not agree with us but help them see and understand how much President Trump has done,” Reyes, co-chair of APAs for Trump, said.

Friday’s event was among a lineup of gatherings, such as caravans and in-person park rallies in 21 cities, in the final weeks organized by volunteer supporters.

A handful of AAPI-centric surveys noted the enthusiasm of the community to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.

The 2020 Asian American Voter Survey — released in September by APIA Vote, AAPI Data, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC — found that 52% of Fil-Ams surveyed favor Biden, while 34% support Trump.

The two-week early voting period in Nevada ended on Friday, October 30. As of Thursday, 904,559 ballots have been cast throughout the state either by mail-in ballots or in-person early voting. Of that total, 601,764 votes came from Clark County.

On Election Day, November 3, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., any Clark County registered voter may cast their ballot at any of the 125 vote centers in the county.

Same-day registration, as well as immediate updates of existing registration (name, party, and address) will also be available at all voting sites, according to the Clark County Election Department.

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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