Findings Illuminate Asian American Voting Patterns, Voter Priorities for 2008 Elections, Vote for Governor, and Voting Barriers
Boston, MA—Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of hundreds of Asian American voters in Massachusetts during the November 2006 gubernatorial elections. AALDEF, a 33-year-old civil rights organization, polled more than 4,700 Asian American voters in 23 cities and in nine states on Election Day nationwide, conducting the largest nonpartisan survey of its kind.
AALDEF Staff Attorney Glenn Magpantay presented detailed findings from the 2006 Massachusetts exit poll with comparative information in the following areas:
- Voter priorities for the 2008 Elections
- Party enrollment and voting history
- Vote for Massachusetts governor
- Ethnicity and national origin
- Opinions about immigration reform
- Citizenship tenure (duration)
- English proficiency levels
- Voting barriers and problems
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.
Co-sponsors of the April 30 presentation include Asian Pacific American Agenda Coalition, Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, Chinese Progressive Association, Greater Boston Legal Services Asian Outreach Unit, MassVOTE, ONE Lowell, and Vietnamese American Initiative for Development.
The Asian American Vote in Massachusetts
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 statesNew York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Washingtonas well as Washington, D.C.
AALDEF surveyed a total of 427 Massachusetts Asian American voters. Respondents were surveyed in Bostons Chinatown, Dorchester, Quincy and Lowell. Highlights of the findings include:
Profile of respondents.
The three largest ethnic groups surveyed in Massachusetts were Chinese (56%), Vietnamese (27%), and Cambodian (10%). Eighty-three percent (83%) were foreign-born citizens. Over a third (37%) of respondents had either no formal U.S. education or less than a high school education. Fourteen percent (14%) were first-time voters.
The majority of Asian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Deval Patrick for Massachusetts governor.
Three out of four (75%) Asian American voters supported Democratic candidate Deval Patrick in his bid for governor. Twenty-one percent (21%) voted for Republican candidate Kerry Healey, and four percent (4%) voted for other candidates. Among the total electorate, Patrick won 56% of the vote, while Healey won 35%.
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 (30%), Health Care (22%), and Education (20%).
Most Asian Americans were either registered Democrats or not enrolled in any political party.
Forty-two percent (42%) of Massachusetts Asian Americans were registered Democrats, and 43% were not enrolled in any political party. In contrast, 11% were registered Republicans. Forty-five percent (45%) of Chinese voters were registered Democrats, 3% were Republicans, and nearly half (47%) were not enrolled in any political party. A third (31%) of Vietnamese voters were registered Democrats, a quarter (24%) were Republicans, and 44% were not affiliated with any party. Half (50%) of all Cambodian voters were registered Democrats, 17% were Republicans, and 29% were not enrolled in any political party.
Asian Americans supported legalization of undocumented immigrants and reducing immigration backlogs, while they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Of those who gave an opinion, 66% of respondents said they favored creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. Additionally, 86% of respondents said they favored reducing the amount of time the government takes to process paperwork for immigrants waiting to enter the country. Three in five (63%) respondents also said they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Many Asian Americans have been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment.
Twenty-seven percent (27%) 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, half (50%) 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.
Seventy-five percent (75%) of Vietnamese American voters, sixty percent (60%) of Chinese American voters, and half (50%) of all Cambodian American voters were limited English proficient. Less than 10% of all respondents identified English as their native language. Over half (55%) of respondents used interpreters to vote, and 55% used translated written materials.
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 55% 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 AALDEF’s 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.
National Co-Sponsors of the Asian American Exit Poll 2006:
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 of the Asian American Exit Poll 2006:
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.
For More Information, Contact:
Glenn D. Magpantay, Staff Attorney, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Redondo, Voting Rights Public Education Coordinator, email@example.com
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
99 Hudson Street, 12th floor
New York, NY 10013