Findings Illuminate Asian American Voter Priorities for 2008 Elections, Vote for U.S. Senator, and Need for Language Assistance to Vote
Today in New Jersey’s Bergen and Middlesex Counties, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of hundreds of Asian American voters in New Jersey during the November 2006 midterm 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, the largest nonpartisan survey of its kind.
AALDEF surveyed a total of 468 New Jersey Asian American voters. Respondents were surveyed in Edison, Palisades Park, Fort Lee, and Jersey City.
AALDEF Voting Rights Public Education Coordinator Brian Redondo and Staff Attorney Glenn Magpantay presented detailed findings from the 2006 New Jersey exit poll with comparative information in the following areas:
- Voter priorities for the 2008 Elections
- Party enrollment and voting history
- Vote for U.S. Senator
- Ethnicity and national origin
- Opinions about immigration reform
- Citizenship tenure (duration)
- English proficiency levels
- Language access needs by county
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 May 10 presentation include the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, the Korean American Bar Association of New Jersey, Korean American Voters Council of NY/NJ, and South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow.
The Asian American Vote in New Jersey
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 468 New Jersey Asian American voters. Respondents were surveyed in Edison, Palisades Park, Fort Lee, and Jersey City. Highlights of the findings include:
Profile of respondents.
The three largest ethnic groups surveyed in New Jersey were Asian Indian (47%), Korean (27%), and Filipino (10%). Ninety percent (90%) were foreign-born citizens. Over a quarter (28%) of respondents had no formal U.S. education. Nine percent (9%) were first-time voters.
The majority of Asian Americans voted for Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez for U.S. Senator.
Over three-fourths (77%) of Asian American voters supported Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez for U.S. Senate. Twenty percent (20%) voted for Republican candidate Thomas H. Kean Jr., and 4% voted for other candidates. Among the total electorate, Menendez won 53% of the vote, while Kean won 45%.
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 (29%), War in Iraq (18%), and Health Care (16%).
Most Asian Americans were either registered Democrats or not enrolled in any political party.
Fifty-five percent (55%) of New Jersey Asian Americans were registered Democrats, and 30% were not enrolled in any political party. In contrast, 12% were registered Republicans. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Indian American voters were registered Democrats, 5% were Republicans, and a third (30%) were not enrolled in any political party. Over a third (39%) of Korean American voters were registered Democrats, 19% were Republicans, and 38% were not affiliated with any party. Forty-two percent (42%) of all Filipino American voters were registered Democrats, 26% were Republicans, and 32% 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, 78% of respondents said they favored creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. Additionally, 89% 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 four (73%) respondents also said they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Many Asian Americans have been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment.
Twenty-one percent (21%) 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 (48%) 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-nine percent (79%) of Korean American voters in Bergen County expressed that they were limited English proficient. In Middlesex County, 21% of Gujarati-speaking voters expressed some difficulty reading English. Furthermore, only 8% of respondents identified English as their native language. Twenty-two percent (22%) of respondents used interpreters to vote, and 20% 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 88% 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 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.