Press Release

Asian American Group to Monitor Polls and Poll Voters in NY, NJ, and VA on Election Day


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New York, NY — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 39-year old national civil rights organization, will dispatch over 250 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to three states to document voter problems on Election Day, November 5. AALDEF will also conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll in six languages to get a snapshot of Asian American voting preferences in these key states in anticipation of next year’s mid-term elections.

The elections that will take place on November 5 in these three states are the mayoral election in New York City and the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. All three of these states have large Asian American populations.

“Issues of great significance to the Asian American community, including immigration, education, and housing, will be affected by the results of these elections,” said AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung. “With so much at stake, we want to ensure that every eligible Asian American can participate in the electoral process.”

The upcoming legislative docket in these four states includes city planning decisions that may affect the rapid gentrification of immigrant neighborhoods (report) and measures to combat the high rate of school bullying of Asian American students (report).

AALDEF’s poll monitoring efforts have taken on heightened significance in light of the Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder, which weakened the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. AALDEF had successfully used the preclearance process in the past to protect Asian American voters.

“AALDEF’s poll monitoring efforts are more essential than ever,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, Director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program. “The Shelby decision left limited tools to protect vulnerable Asian American voters. We must respond with renewed commitment to safeguarding equal access to the vote.”


  • Ujala Sehgal, Communications Director; 212.966.5932 x217,
  • Glenn Magpantay, Democracy Program Director, 212.966.5932 x206,


In the 2012 elections, Asian Americans had to overcome numerous obstacles to exercise their right to vote. AALDEF volunteers identified mistranslated or missing voting materials, interpreter shortages that led to Asian American voters being turned away, and poll workers who made hostile and racist remarks about Asian American voters. Download the report >

On November 5, AALDEF will monitor over 50 poll sites to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act. These polling places are in areas with large numbers of newly-registered Asian American voters; jurisdictions in which Asian-language assistance is provided; and sites where Asian Americans have reported voting barriers or intimidation in recent elections. Volunteer attorneys will check to see whether Asian-language voting assistance has been provided (such as ballots, interpreters, signs, and voting materials) and whether provisional ballots are offered to voters whose names are not in voter lists. Attorneys will monitor to ensure that voter identification requirements are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.


AALDEF will conduct a nonpartisan exit poll of Asian American voters in 6 languages: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bengali, Hindi, and Punjabi. Voters will be asked their preferences in the gubernatorial and local races, top reasons for their choices, party affiliations, whether they are first-time voters, use of Asian-language voting assistance, and specific problems encountered at the polls. The AALDEF exit poll reveals 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, noting the steadily increasing numbers of new citizen and first-time voters. In the 2012 Presidential election, AALDEF polled 9,096 Asian American voters in 14 states — the largest poll of its kind in the nation – and found that of all Asian Americans polled:

  • 79% were foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens
  • 27% were first-time voters
  • 37% were limited English proficient
  • 57% were enrolled Democrats, 14% Republican, and 27% not enrolled in any political party
  • 77% voted for Barack Obama and 21% voted for Mitt Romney

Download the report >

MULTILINGUAL VOTER HOTLINE: 800-966-5946 Multilingual volunteers will be at poll sites to take complaints from voters about election irregularities and other barriers to voting. Voters can also report Election Day problems to AALDEF’s toll-free Election Day Hotline at 800-966-5946, or by e-mail at

AALDEF is partnering with nearly 20 national and local groups to mobilize volunteer attorneys, law students, college students and community activists on Election Day:


Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)


Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL)
Asian American Society of Central Virginia (AASOCVA)
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC)
Chhaya CDC
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia (CAPAVA)
MinKwon Center
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)-DC and NY Chapters


Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Greater DC (APABA-DC)
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA/NJ)
Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY)
Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)
South Asian Bar Association of Greater DC