Boston, MA—The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 32-year-old civil rights organization, released detailed findings today from its multilingual exit poll of Asian American voters in the 2005 city council elections in Massachusetts.
Approximately 300 Asian American voters participated in the exit poll in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Khmer on Election Day. Volunteers conducted the survey outside poll sites in Bostons Chinatown, Dorchester, and Lowell. AALDEF will release new comparative information about Asian American voting patterns, key factors influencing their vote, party enrollment, main source of news, English proficiency and voting barriers. The results expand upon AALDEF’s unprecedented exit poll in 2004, surveying 800 Asian American voters in Massachusetts.
Highlights of AALDEF’s Massachusetts Asian American Vote 2005 exit poll findings:
- Forty-six percent (46%) of respondents were not enrolled in any political party, and only 6% of voters reported basing their ballot decision on political party.
- Approximately one in three Cambodian American voters, and one in four Asian American voters generally, exercised their right to vote for the first time in 2005.
- In Boston, 49% of Asian Americans voted for Korean American candidate Sam Yoon, and 30% for Latino candidate Felix Arroyo for City Councilor.
- In Lowell, 69% of Asian Americans voted for Cambodian American candidate Vesna Nuon for School Committee. With respect to Cambodian American candidates for City Council, 62% voted for Rady Mom and 38% voted for Sambeth Chey Fennell.
- Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all respondents expressed that they were limited English proficient (LEP). Of those respondents 72% were first-time voters, and were the greatest beneficiaries of language assistance. Among all Asian American ethnicities surveyed, more than half (57%) used an interpreter.
- Ninety-three percent (93%) of Vietnamese American voters in Dorchester identified themselves as LEP.
- Nearly half (48%) of Cambodian American voters in Lowell identified themselves as LEP, and 51% percent of all Cambodian Americans surveyed said they voted with the help of an interpreter.
- Of the Asian American voters asked to show identification, more than two-thirds (67%) were not legally required to do so under the Help America Vote Act.
Multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. According to the U.S. Census, the Asian American population grew by 45.7% in Boston, and by 67.5% in Massachusetts, between 1990 and 2000.
Co-sponsors of the November exit poll and election protection effort included the Asian Political American Agenda Coalition, Boston Asian Students Alliance, Chinese Progressive Association, Family Unity of Lowell, Greater Boston Legal Services, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Boston Bar Association, Lowell Cambodian American Voting Project, ONE Lowell, Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP.