Despite Racial Discrimination, Independent Asian Americans Clinch Democratic Wins in Swing States with 80% of Vote

Friday, Nov 9, 2012

Obama3.JPGPreliminary data from exit polls released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) reveal that approximately 80% of Asian American voters in the battleground states of Nevada and Virginia voted for President Obama and Democratic candidates.

"As the fastest growing minority group in the country, Asian Americans gave overwhelming support to President Barack Obama at 73% nationwide, exceeding even Latino support of Obama at 71%," said Margaret Fung, AALDEF Executive Director. "In Virginia and Nevada, Asian American voters played a decisive role in the U.S. Senate races. The lesson from our exit polls is that political parties can no longer afford to ignore Asian Americans as a demographic."

AALDEF sent over 800 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to 14 states to document voter problems on Election Day and to conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll in 13 languages. Full results from the national exit polls are forthcoming.

In Virginia, 71.9% of Asian Americans voted for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine. Notably, a polling place in Annandale, Virginia was the site of one of the most egregious incidents of racial discrimination against Asian American voters, as reported by AALDEF poll monitors.

AALDEF issued a release documenting an incident where a group of elderly Korean Americans at the polls in Annandale were discriminated against by poll workers and asked to stand in a separate line. After those voters presented the proper identification, authorities demanded that they say their names and home addresses out loud in English - which was difficult and embarrassing for those with limited English proficiency.  The poll workers grew frustrated that the seniors didn't understand the instructions, and then ordered all the Korean Americans waiting to vote: "Korean people stand in a separate line." The poll workers began talking to white voters, while the Korean Americans had to wait.

"As Asian Americans sought to have their voices heard in this crucial presidential election, they were treated differently at the polls," said Glenn D. Magpantay, Democracy Program Director at AALDEF.  "We are still struggling for equal access to the ballot. AALDEF is investigating every incident of discrimination and disenfranchisement that we have received."

Asian Americans also gave overwhelming support to President Obama in the battleground state of Nevada. In Las Vegas, AALDEF volunteers, with the collaboration of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Nevada Chapter, surveyed over 335 Asian American voters at several poll sites.

AALDEF's preliminary exit poll data shows that 80.7% of Asian American voters in Nevada voted for Barack Obama. 79.2% voted for the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate (Shelley Berkley) and 79.5% voted for the Democratic nominee in the U.S. House of Representatives (Steven Horsford). 26% of those polled were first-time voters. Of the Asian American voters not registered with any political party, a tremendous 83.9% voted for Barack Obama.

"As our exit polls reveal, Asian American voters in battleground states, many of whom are independent, represent a major political power," said Magpantay.

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Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 x.217

Glenn D. Magpantay
212.966.5932 x.206

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, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.