The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a national 33-year-old civil rights organization, will be monitoring polling places on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2007, to ensure that eligible Asian Americans are able to exercise their right to vote. Attorneys, law students, and community volunteers will monitor 30 poll sites in 5 states–Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York–where Asian American voters reported inadequate language assistance, voting barriers or intimidation in recent elections.
Volunteers speaking Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or Khmer will be at poll sites to take complaints from voters about election irregularities, the availability of Asian-language assistance (ballots, interpreters, signs and voting materials), improper requests for voter identification, and other problems. Voters can also report Election Day problems to AALDEFs toll-free Election Day Hotline at 800.966.5946, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said: “We want to ensure that all Asian American voters are able to participate in the electoral process and have their votes counted.”
Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF staff attorney, said: “In the 2006 midterm elections, Asian Americans had to overcome numerous obstacles to exercise their right to vote. AALDEF volunteers identified mistranslated ballots, interpreter shortages that led to Asian American voters being turned away, and poll workers who made hostile and racist remarks about Asian American voters. AALDEF will guard against the disenfranchisement of new citizens and limited English proficient voters.”
AALDEF is currently involved in several lawsuits to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans. In February 2006, AALDEF sued the New York City Board of Elections for violations of the Voting Rights Acts language assistance provisions, which mandate Chinese and Korean ballots and interpreters. AALDEF is also monitoring settlements in the U.S. Department of Justices lawsuits against the cities of Boston and Philadelphia.
AALDEF has monitored elections and conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988, noting the growing involvement of new citizen voters in all Asian American communities. In the 2006 Midterm Elections, AALDEF polled 4,727 Asian American voters in 23 cities and nine states.