Findings Illuminate Asian American Vote for Senate, Voter Priorities for the 2008 Elections, and Party Enrollment Patterns
Rockville, MD—Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of hundreds of Asian American voters during the November 2006 midterm elections. AALDEF, a 33-year-old national civil rights organization, polled more than 4,700 Asian American voters in 23 cities and in nine states on Election Day nationwide: New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
In conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, AALDEF Staff Attorney Glenn Magpantay presented findings from the 2006 exit poll with comparative information in the following areas: Vote in Marylands U.S. Senate race; party enrollment; voter priorities for the 2008 Elections; first-time voting by ethnicity; opinions about immigration reform; citizenship tenure (duration); English proficiency levels; and voting barriers.
Speakers included State Delegate Saqib Ali (District 39), State Delegate Susan Lee (District 16), Jayne Park of the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Kamala Edwards of the Indian American Leadership Council, Chung Pak of the Korean American Association, Hoan Dang of the Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association, Raj Kudchadkar of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, and Lily Qi of the Organization for Chinese Americans Greater D.C. Chapter.
AALDEF’s multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. Nearly 11,000 Asian American voters in eight states and 3,000 in four states were surveyed in the 2004 and 2002 exit polls, respectively. More than 30 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize more than 600 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans.
The May 31 presentation was co-sponsored by the APIAVote, Asian American LEAD, Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Metro D.C./Baltimore Chapter, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater D.C. Area, Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, Boat People SOS, Inc., Chinese Cultural and Community Service Center, Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, Indian American Leadership Council, Korean American Association of the State of Maryland, Korean American Automobile Association, Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington, League of Korean Americans of Maryland, Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association, Organization of Chinese Americans Greater Washington D.C. Chapter, and South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow.
The Asian American Vote in Maryland
On Election Day, November 7, 2006, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), with the help of several co-sponsoring organizations and more than 600 attorneys, law students, and volunteers, conducted a nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of over 4,700 Asian American voters. The questionnaire was available in English and nine Asian languages. Voters were surveyed in 23 cities across nine states New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Washington as well as Washington, D.C.
AALDEF surveyed a total of 264 Asian American voters in Maryland. Respondents were surveyed in Rockville, Silver Spring, and Kensington. Highlights of the findings include:
Profile of respondents.
The four largest ethnic groups surveyed in Maryland were Chinese (40%), South Asian (22%), Filipino (13%), and Vietnamese (12%). Eighty percent (80%) were foreign-born citizens, and 13% of respondents had no formal U.S. education. Six percent (6%) were first-time voters.
The majority of Asian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Ben Cardin for U.S. Senator.
Nearly three-fourths (72%) of Asian American voters supported Democratic candidate Ben Cardin for U.S. Senate. Twenty-five percent (25%) voted for Republican candidate Michael Steele, and 3% voted for other candidates. Among the total electorate, Cardin won the open seat with 54% of the vote, while Steele earned 44%.
Economy/Jobs was the most important issue Asian Americans identified for 2008 Presidential candidates to address.
The three most important issues for 2008 presidential candidates to address were: Economy/Jobs (26%), Health Care (19%), and the War in Iraq (19%).
Most Asian Americans were either registered Democrats or not enrolled in any political party.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Maryland Asian Americans were registered Democrats, and 29% were not enrolled in any political party. In contrast, 16% were registered Republicans. Three-fourths (75%) of South Asian American voters were registered Democrats, 4% were Republicans, and 16% were not enrolled in any political party. Over half (55%) of Filipino American voters were registered Democrats, 30% were Republicans, and 15% were not affiliated with any party. Forty-two percent (42%) of all Chinese American voters were registered Democrats, 14% were Republicans, and 42% were not enrolled in any political party. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Vietnamese American voters were registered Republicans, 23% were registered Democrats, and 35% were not enrolled in any political party.
Asian Americans supported legalization of undocumented immigrants and reducing immigration backlogs, while they opposed criminalizing the undocumented.
Of those who gave an opinion, 75% of respondents said they favored creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. Additionally, 92% of respondents said they favored reducing the amount of time the government takes to process paperwork for immigrants waiting to enter the country. Nearly three in four (70%) respondents also said they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Many Asian Americans have been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment.
About a third (30%) of respondents said they had been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment in at least one of the following locations: at work, at school, or in a public location. Of those, nearly half (45%) said they had been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment in public locations.
Language assistance and translated ballots are needed to preserve access to the vote.
One quarter (24%) of all respondents expressed that they were limited English proficient. A third (33%) of Chinese American voters and nearly a third (32%) of Vietnamese American voters expressed that they were limited English proficient.
Asian American voters encountered unlawful ID requirements.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires that only certain first-time voters provide identification to vote. Yet 61% of those asked to show identification in order to vote were not required to do so under this federal law.
AALDEF Exit Polls
AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. Nearly 11,000 Asian American voters in eight states (NY, NJ, MA, MI, IL, PA, RI, VA) were surveyed in AALDEFs 2004 exit poll. Over 3,000 Asian American voters in four states (NY, NJ, MA, MI) were surveyed in 2002, and over 5,000 Asian New Yorkers were surveyed in 2000.
Asian and 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
Asian American Bar Association of New York
Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
Asian Bar Association of Washington
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
Chinatown Voter Education Alliance NY
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership DC
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
YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community NY
The Sikh Coalition NY
South Asian Youth Action! NY
Vietnamese American Initiative for Development MA
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association chapters across the country.