New Findings: 78% Korean Americans Voted for Obama; Many Faced Barriers at the Polls
Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of 998 Korean American voters in the November 2012 elections, the largest survey of its kind in the nation. The results indicated that Korean Americans showed strong support for comprehensive immigration reform and the Democratic party candidates for President and Congress.
78% of Korean Americans polled voted for President Obama, compared to 77% of those polled nationally. Of those surveyed, 60% were enrolled in the Democratic party, while only 14% were enrolled in the Republican party, and 24% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party. The majority of Korean Americans (72%) supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship.
During the November 2012 elections, many Korean American voters encountered barriers at polling places, including segregated voting lines in Annandale, Virginia and voters who were not allowed to vote in Georgia because they had not provided documentary proof of U.S. citizenship under Georgia’s new proof of citizenship law.
“Due to issues that Korean American voters encountered, AALDEF calls on the Governor of Virginia to veto the bills SB 1256 and HB 1337, which restrict the forms of acceptable identification that voters may present at elections polls, and will prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible Virginians from voting,” said Glenn Magpantay, Director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program.
Magpantay presented the results of the 2012 exit poll on Korean American voters at the Yejin Korean Community Service Center in Annandale.
A majority of Korean Americans favored comprehensive immigration reform.
72% of Korean Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with the highest support from voters in New York (76%), Virginia (73%), Maryland (72%), and New Jersey (71%).
76% of those who voted for Obama and 60% of those who voted for Romney supported immigration reform.
77% of Democrats, 68% of Republicans, and 64% not enrolled in any political party supported immigration reform.
Support for comprehensive immigration reform was consistent among foreign- and native-born and voters of all age groups.
Korean Americans have the highest levels of limited English proficiency.
Korean Americans had the lowest rate of English proficiency compared to other ethnic groups surveyed. 67% of Korean Americans spoke English less than “very well” compared to 37% of all Asian Americans nationally. Korean Americans in New Jersey had the highest rate of limited English proficiency at 72%, followed by those in New York at 69%, and those in Georgia at 60%.
Korean Americans are a growing portion of the electorate.
In the 2012 election, 1 out of 5 (20%) of Korean Americans were first time voters. Of the Korean American voters surveyed, 31% in Maryland, 26% in Virginia, 25% in Georgia, 22% in New Jersey, 16% in New York, and 8% in Massachusetts were first-time voters.
The majority of Korean Americans were enrolled as Democrats
60% of Korean Americans were enrolled as Democrats, 14% were enrolled as Republicans, and lmost one quarter (24%) were not enrolled in any political party. Findings varied by state. 75% of Korean Americans in New York, 60% in Massachusetts, and 54% in Maryland were enrolled in the Democratic party. However, in Georgia, 46% of Korean Americans were not enrolled in any party.
The majority of Korean Americans voted for the Democratic candidate for President and Congress.
78% of Korean Americans voted for Obama. The highest support came from Massachusetts (85%), New York (85%), New Jersey (76%), and Virginia (74%). The majority of voters in Maryland (68%) and Georgia (60%) also voted for Obama.
Support for President Obama was consistent across all categories, including first-time (80%), foreign- (77%) and native-born (87%), limited English proficient (78%) and English proficient (78%) voters, and voters of all age groups.
The major factors influencing the Korean American vote for President were economy/jobs (48%), civil rights/immigrants rights (36%), education (18%), women’s issues (18%), health care (17%), and terrorism/security (8%).
Korean Americans showed strong support for the Democratic candidates for Senate in:
New York (79% for Kirsten Gillibrand)
Massachusetts (77% for Elizabeth Warren)
New Jersey (74% for Robert Menendez)
Virginia (71% for Timothy Kaine), and
Maryland (57% for Benjamin Cardin).
There was also strong support for the Democratic candidates for House of Representatives in New York (87%), Massachusetts (85%), New Jersey (71%), Virginia (71%), and Maryland (67%). However, in Georgia, 49% of Korean Americans voted for the Democratic candidate for House.
Voting barriers persisted.
Voters were asked if they encountered any voting problems. Below are the numbers of complaints:
337 were required to show identification, though 272 of them were not first-time voters and therefore wrongly required.
22 were required to prove their U.S. citizenship.
23 indicated that their names were missing or had errors in the list of voters at poll sites.
13 had to vote by provisional ballot.
30 voters inidcated that poll workers did not know the rules.
22 voter indicated that poll workers were rude or hostile.
43 voters complained that no interpreters or translations were available when needed.
8 were directed to the wrong poll site or voting machine/table within a site.
About the Exit Poll:
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. In 2012, more than 100 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 800 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans. A list of co-sponsoring organizations and law firms follows below.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.
Ujala Sehgal firstname.lastname@example.org 212.966.5932 x217
AALDEF 2012 ASIAN AMERICAN EXIT POLL Co-Sponsoring Organizations and Law Firms
Alliance of South Asian American Labor Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance APIAVote Common Cause Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Nat’l Coalition of Asian Pac. Amer. Comm. Dev. Nat’l Korean Amer. Service & Education Consortium National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance North American South Asian Bar Association OCA (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans) South Asian Americans Leading Together
ACCESS – MI APALA – Nevada APIA Vote – Michigan Asian American Society of Central Virginia Boat People SOS Delaware Valley – PA CAAAV – NY Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia Center for Pan Asian Community Services – GA Chhaya CDC – NY Chinese-American Planning Council – NY Chinese Community Federation of Atlanta Chinese Progressive Association – MA Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia East Coast Asian American Student Union Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York Hunter College/CUNY, Asian Am. Studies Prog – NY Korean American Civic Empowerment of NY/NJ Korean American Resource and Cultural Center – IL MinKwon Center for Community Action – NY NAAAP – New York NAAAP – Philadelphia NANAY – FL NAPAWF – DC NAPAWF – New York City OCA: Georgia OCA: Greater Houston OCA: Greater Philadelphia OCA: Greater Washington DC OCA: Northern Virginia OCA: South Florida Pace University, ACE House – NY Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation Princeton Asian American Students Association – NJ Q-WAVE – NY South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association of New York U. California San Diego, Lambda Phi Epsilon U. Maryland, College Park, Asian Amer. Studies Prog. U. Massachusetts Boston, Asian Amer. Studies Prog. Viet. Amer. Young Leaders Assoc. of New Orleans
Asian American Bar Association of Houston Asian American Bar Association of New York Asian American Lawyers Assoc. of Massachusetts Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia Asian Bar Association of Las Vegas – NV Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Wash., DC Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Pennsylvania Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of South Florida Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center – DC Boston University School of Law, APALSA – MA Brooklyn Law School, APALSA – NY Columbia Law School, APALSA – NY Filipino Amer. Legal Defense & Educ. Fund, Inc. – NY Georgetown Law, APALSA – DC Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association Greater Boston Legal Services: Asian Outreach Unit Harvard Law School, APALSA – MA Korean Amer. Bar Assoc. of the Washington DC Area Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater NY Louisiana Asian Pacific American Bar Association Muslim American Bar Association of New York New England School of Law, APALSA – MA Pace Law School, Public Interest Law Center – NY Rutgers School of Law-Newark, APALSA – NJ South Asian Bar Association of New York South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC Suffolk U. Law Rappaport Ctr. Law and Public Serv. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, APALSA U. Penn. Law, Public Interest Office and APALSA