Finds that Many Asian Americans Need Bilingual Ballots to Vote
On Tuesday, September 22, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) monitored the Preliminary Municipal Elections in Boston, Massachusetts. In light of the expired U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement order that required the City of Boston to provide bilingual ballots and interpreters, AALDEF dispatched 25 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to poll sites to monitor the voting process. While observers found few problems, AALDEF noted that many Asian Americans needed language assistance in the form of bilingual ballots in order to vote.
In conjunction with its election protection effort, AALDEF also conducted a multilingual, nonpartisan exit poll at 3 poll sites in 3 languages: English, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Today, AALDEF released results of its exit poll of 149 Asian American voters.
MULTILINGUAL EXIT POLL
Selected highlights appear below:
In the citywide race for Mayor, a clear majority (71%) of Asian American voters favored incumbent Thomas Menino; 22% voted for Sam Yoon, and 6% for Michael Flaherty.
However, among young voters, a plurality (46%) supported Yoon, with 31% voting for Menino.
Menino and Flaherty will proceed to the general election on November 3.
In the citywide race for City Councillor At-Large, 39% of Asian American voters favored Hiep Quoc Nguyen; 30% voted for Felix G. Arroyo; and 25% for Tomas Gonzalez and Tito Jackson.
Of the above-listed candidates, Arroyo, Gonzalez, Jackson, and five others will proceed to the general election on November 3.
Asian Americans cited Health Care as the most important issue influencing their votes.
Health Care was the dominant issue for Asian American voters (49%), followed by Economy/Jobs (37%), Housing/Development Policies (26%), Senior Care (24%), Education (23%), and Public Safety (19%).
A majority of Asian Americans were limited English proficient and needed language assistance.
Of those polled, only 9% identified English as their native language, with 80% stating that they were limited English proficient. Furthermore, 53% of all respondents preferred to use some form of language assistance to vote. 43% also indicated that they would be less likely to vote if language assistance were not available.
The largest Asian ethnic groups polled were Chinese (85%) and Vietnamese (11%). Eighty-seven percent (87%) of those polled were foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens. Twelve percent (12%) were first-time voters.
The AALDEF exit poll reveals vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. In the 2008 Presidential election, AALDEF polled 16,665 Asian American voters in 11 states–the largest poll of its kind in the nation. AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988, noting the steadily increasing numbers of new citizen and first-time voters.
AALDEF monitored 18 poll sites for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the availability of interpreters, bilingual ballots, and translated voting materials. In July 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the City of Boston for violations of the Voting Rights Act. The settlement requiring Boston to provide bilingual ballots and interpreters expired in 2008, but the City agreed to continue to provide bilingual ballots on a voluntary basis. AALDEF monitored the elections for any backsliding to this commitment. Observers found that language assistance was widely accessible.
AALDEF partnered with several groups to mobilize volunteer attorneys, law students, college students and community workers on Election Day: Asian American Lawyers Association of Greater Massachusetts, Greater Boston Legal Services: Asian Outreach Unit, as well as students from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Harvard School of Law and Boston University: School of Law.
For more information:
Glenn D. Magpantay
212.966.5932 ext. 206