2020 Election: Khmer Girls in Action inspires young people to vote

Ahead of the 2020 election, Khmer Girls in Action in Long Beach is educating and empowering young people in their community to vote.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Khmer Girls in Action is a nonprofit organization founded in Long Beach in 1997.

"Our mission is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community," said lead organizer Jenn Heng. "We fight for gender, race and economic justice. And it's led by Southeast Asian young women."

According to census data, roughly 4% of Long Beach's population identifies as Cambodian.

"We are considered the largest population of Cambodians outside of the country itself," Heng said.

Each and every election, the nonprofit seeks to educate and empower young people to get out and vote.

"Youth voting is just entirely necessary for representing overlooked communities," said KGA fellow and Measure US co-chair Janice Mendez. "Giving youth the opportunity to vote allows them to voice their family's needs, regardless of whether their family can vote or not."

Heng said that they believe that Long Beach's Cambodian community needs better access to health care, mental health support, translation and housing.

Khmer Girls in Action supports Measure US, a ballot measure in Long Beach that would double the tax rate imposed on oil producers. According to the city of Long Beach, the measure would generate an extra $1.6 million, which would go towards climate change efforts, community health and youth services.

"Youth are the future," said 17-year-old youth organizer Chansochata Thon. "If we give them the power, if we show them that they matter, they're going to grow up and they're going to continue leading the cause and creating change."

To learn more about Khmer Girls in Action, visit their website.

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