Press Release

AALDEF Election Protection Plan for 2006 Midterm Elections in Place

 
 

Multilingual Asian American Exit Poll Survey Expands in Eight States, to Document Voters’ Experiences and Choices in Key Congressional and State Races

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 32-year-old civil rights group, today announced the details of its Election Protection 2006 efforts on Election Day. Tomorrow, more than 625 attorneys, law students, and volunteers will cover more than 60 poll sites in eight states and Washington, D.C., with a focus on precincts where Asian language assistance is provided, where Asian American voter registration has increased, or where Asian American voters historically have experienced intimidation.

AALDEF will document incidents of voter discrimination at poll sites, receive reports via its toll-free hotline, 800.966.5946 and via e-mail at votingcomplaints@aaldef.org, and conduct a multilingual exit poll of Asian American voters in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Said AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung, “In recent elections, Asian Americans have continued to face barriers that impede their right to vote. With the dramatic increase in new citizens and first-time voters, as well as the introduction of new voting machines under the federal Help America Vote Act, we want to ensure that all eligible Asian American voters are able to participate in the electoral process in November without interference.”

Election Monitoring

AALDEF will monitor elections in NY, NJ, MA, MI, IL, PA, VA, MD, and Washington, D.C. for:

  • Compliance with language assistance (ballots, interpreters, signs and voting materials) required by the Voting Rights Act, court order, state statute, or voluntary agreement;
  • Properly functioning voting machines; and
  • Non-discriminatory implementation of voter identification requirements in all states.

Voters can also report Election Day problems to AALDEFs Election Day Hotline toll-free at 800.966.5946, or by e-mail at votingcomplaints@aaldef.org.

AALDEF staff attorney Glenn D. Magpantay reports, “In recent elections, our Election Protection volunteers have identified egregiously mistranslated ballots, interpreter shortages that led to Asian American voters being turned away, and poll workers who made hostile and racist remarks about Asian American voters. This year, 500 volunteers will guard against the disenfranchisement of new citizens or limited English proficient voters that could tarnish the results of local or federal races.”

AALDEF recently initiated several lawsuits to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans. In February 2006, AALDEF sued the New York City Board of Elections for violations of the Voting Rights Acts language assistance provisions, which mandate Chinese and Korean ballots and interpreters. AALDEF is currently seeking to intervene into the U.S. Department of Justices lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections for noncompliance with the Help America Vote Act. In 2005, AALDEF also supported the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the City of Boston that resulted in a settlement requiring that ballots be translated into Chinese and Vietnamese.

Multilingual Exit Polls

On November 7, AALDEFs multilingual volunteers will conduct an exit poll of Asian American voters in nine languages Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Bengali, Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati. Voters will be asked about their preferences in top federal and state elections, party affiliations, and opinions on key issues, as well as any election irregularities or problems encountered at the polls.

This year, AALDEF aims to survey 5,000 Asian American voters. The exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns and priorities that are often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988, noting the steadily growing involvement of new voters.

AALDEFs 2004 exit poll—which surveyed nearly 11,000 voters—revealed that more than one third (38%) of Asian Americans surveyed were first-time voters, of which nearly one half (46%) used language assistance in order to vote.

AALDEF is partnering with several groups to mobilize volunteer attorneys, law students, college students and community activists on Election Day.

National Co-Sponsors

Asian Pacific Islander American Vote
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Organization of Chinese Americans
People For the American Way Foundation
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP

Local Co-Sponsors

Asian American Bar Association of New York
Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center DC
Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) DC
Chinatown Voter Education Alliance NY
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia
Filipino American Human Services, Inc. NY
Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Outreach Unit
Korean American League for Civic Action NY
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center IL
Korean American Voters’ Council of NY & NJ
ONE Lowell MA
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Providence Youth and Student Movement RI
YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community NY
The Sikh Coalition NY
South Asian Youth Action! NY
Vietnamese American Initiative for Development MA
and
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association chapters across the country.