AALDEF to poll 10,000 Asian American voters and document voting problems in 14 states on Election Day

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016

New York City...The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 42-year old national civil rights organization, will dispatch more than 800 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to polling places in 14 states and Washington, DC to document voting problems in the 2016 elections. AALDEF will also conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll in 12 languages to get a snapshot of Asian American voting preferences.

Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said: "We want to ensure that all eligible Asian Americans can participate in the electoral process and have their votes counted in this important presidential election." She said that AALDEF plans to poll 10,000 Asian American voters on Election Day at polling places in 64 cities in 14 states: New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Responding to a wave of new state voter identification and proof of citizenship laws, AALDEF will monitor more than 100 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. Attorneys will check 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 report on whether voter identification requirements are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.

Jerry Vattamala, AALDEF Democracy Program Director, said, "In the 2012 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." Citing a 2016 AALDEF case
 in which a Texas election law was struck down under the Voting Rights Act because it improperly restricted access to interpreters, Vattamala said he received a complaint this week from an Asian American voter improperly denied language assistance during early voting in Texas.

AALDEF will conduct a nonpartisan exit poll of Asian American voters in 12 languages: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Khmer, Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, and English. Voters will be asked how they voted in the presidential, U.S. Senate, and Congressional races, the top reasons for their choices, their party affiliations, whether they are first-time voters, use of Asian-language voting assistance, and specific problems encountered at the polls.  The AALDEF Asian American Exit Poll reveals vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. 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 among Asian American voters polled:

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

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.


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 hotline at 800-966-5946, or by e-mail at votingrights@aaldef.org.

AALDEF is partnering with 121 national and local groups, law firms, and student associations to mobilize volunteers for Election Day.

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For more information, contact:
Jerry Vattamala, 212.966.5932 x209

Margaret Fung, 212.966.5932 x201


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