Press Release

Preliminary 2021 Asian American Exit Poll Results in Five States

Image for Preliminary 2021 Asian American Exit Poll Results in Five States
AALDEF volunteers poll Asian American voters at an elementary school in Queens, New York.

Asian American voters strongly supported Democratic candidates in close races

MA | MI | NJ | NY | VA

New York, NY — Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released preliminary results of its nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of more than 2500 Asian American voters in the November 2, 2021 Election. Voters were surveyed in English, as well as six other Asian languages (Bengali, Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Nepali, and Vietnamese). More detailed results will be provided soon.

“Each year it becomes even more apparent that Asian Americans make up an important and growing part of the electorate. This survey helps us better understand the issues that are important to Asian American voters and where they stand on critical policy questions,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF.

A total of 257 AALDEF volunteers, including attorneys and students, surveyed Asian American voters in five states (Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia). Volunteers also monitored for compliance with the language assistance provisions of the Voting Rights Act and to guard against anti-Asian discrimination and intimidation.


Boston, Massachusetts — Vote for Mayor
88% Wu (Democrat), 10% George (Democrat)

Virginia — Vote for Governor
67% McAuliffe (Democrat), 30% Youngkin (Republican)

New York, New York — Vote for Mayor
Brooklyn: 71% Adams (Democrat), 21% Sliwa (Republican)
Manhattan: 54% Adams (Democrat), 38% Sliwa (Republican)
Queens: 62% Adams (Democrat), 31% Sliwa (Republican)

AALDEF attorneys also monitored poll sites in Hamtramck, MI to ensure that the city was complying with the terms of the Consent Decree ordered in July 2021 from a federal lawsuit filed by AALDEF. While adjustments to the website and translations of candidate names on the ballot are still needed, it appears that the city is now substantially complying with their obligations under the Consent Decree and the requirements of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. This is a drastic improvement from prior elections, including the August 2021 primary election.

“Growing up, I had to go to the polls to help my parents translate the ballots,” said Farhana Aktar, daughter of Rahima Begum, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Language barriers were a major issue for many Bengalis. Because of the Consent Decree, Tuesday’s election was different. It was wonderful to see the Bengali signs and ballots, and old and young men and women from the Bengali community coming together and working as bilingual poll workers, interpreters, and greeters at polling places where there were almost none last year. I am hopeful that the change helped many people who have previously struggled to vote. This was the help our community needed to vote.”

AALDEF will continue to monitor elections in this jurisdiction, and others, to ensure full compliance with their language assistance requirements so that limited English speaking citizens may vote.


Hamtramck, Michigan — Vote for Mayor
69% Ghalib (Democrat), 21% Majewski (Democrat)

Tuesday’s elections included some historic firsts for Americans of Asian descent. Michelle Wu became the first woman, first person of color, and first Asian American to be elected mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. And Amer Ghalib was elected as the first Muslim and first Yemeni American mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan. And in New York City, Shekar Krishnan and Shahana Hanif became the first South Asians elected to New York City Council, and Linda Lee became the first Korean American elected to NYC City Council.

“As the nation’s fastest growing racial group, Asian Americans are playing an increasingly vital role in determining electoral outcomes, running for office in record numbers and winning elections. Our attorneys and volunteers were absolutely vital to capturing this important story,” said Jerry Vattamala, director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program.

AALDEF attorneys and volunteers also observed a number of voter problems, including poll workers being insufficiently trained to adequately serve voters, improper requests for identification, incorrectly informing voters that they were at the wrong poll site, when they were not, prohibiting voters from bringing palm cards with them inside the poll site and malfunctioning ballot marking devices.


For additional information, contact:

Stuart J. Sia
Communications Director
212.966.5932 x203

Susana Lorenzo-Giguere
Senior Staff Attorney, Democracy Program
212.966.5932 x211

Jerry Vattamala
Director, Democracy Program
212.966.5932 x209


Special thanks to the volunteers from the following law firms, bar associations, student associations, schools, and community groups who have contributed their time and expertise to make the 2021 AALDEF Exit Poll Project a success.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
Barton LLP
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Crowell & Moring
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Kirkland & Ellis
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Ropes & Gray
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Wilson Elser

American Citizens for Justice – Youth Leadership Initiative – MI
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC)
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote) – Michigan
Cambodian Mutual Aid Association – Lowell
Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC)
Chhaya CDC
CUNY Hunter College – Asian American Studies Program
Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
MinKwon Center for Community Action
National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) – NY
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) – VA
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) – DC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) – NJ
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)

Boston University
Boston University Law School
City College of NY – Asian Student Organization
Columbia Law School – Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Harvard Law School – Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Harvard Kennedy School
Hunter College New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Northeastern Student Government Association
NYU Law School – Asian Pacific American Law Students Association