LOS ANGELES (Nov. 3, 2016) — As fears arise that racial minority and immigrant voters may be intimidated from voting, non-partisan organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice are expanding efforts to ensure that California’s Asian American voters — especially those who are limited-English proficient – are able to exercise their right to vote.
“This Tuesday, we expect to see the most Asian Americans ever casting their vote in California,” said Dan Ichinose, demographic research project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. “More than 1.8 million Asian Americans will be registered to vote by Election Day, up by more than 150,000 voters since 2012. In Los Angeles County alone, there are 509,000 Asian American voters.”
In advance of Tuesday’s election, Advancing Justice-LA also released the following newly-updated data on California’s Asian American electorate:
• The proportion of Asian American voters varies greatly by county, with Asian Americans comprising 10 percent of voters in Los Angeles County, 14 percent in Orange County and 25 percent in Santa Clara County.
• Statewide, the largest groups of Asian American voters are: Chinese (502,000), Filipino (410,000), Vietnamese (271,000), Asian Indian (188,000), Korean (150,000), Japanese (117,000), and Cambodian (30,000).
• Many Asian American voters rely on language assistance to help them vote, including 50 percent of Korean American voters and 46 percent of Chinese American voters.
With the growth in California’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate as well as the significant number of limited English proficient AAPI voters, Advancing Justice-LA is working with Advancing Justice-ALC in San Francisco to ensure that polling sites comply with state and federal laws requiring language assistance for limited English proficient voters.
Together the two organizations and its local partners will send over 600 trained volunteers to more than 900 polling sites in 25 counties across the state. The counties are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, and Yolo.
“Advancing Justice-CA is training and sending out poll monitors on Election Day to ensure limited-English proficient voters are able to vote and they will be looking to see if all translated materials required by law are present, if voters are being intimidated or harassed, and if voters are being asked to show identification inappropriately, among other issues,” said Deanna Kitamura, Advancing Justice-LA’s voting rights project director. “If our monitors observe or report any major issues, we will be in immediate contact with election officials on Election Day.”
In addition, Advancing Justice has also distributed thousands of translated “Know Your Voting Rights” flyers that explain what to expect on Election Day and how to report election-related problems, as well as identify California counties that must provide translated election materials in Asian languages. Flyers are available from both Advancing Justice-ALC and Advancing Justice-LA. The flyers are available in 13 languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Hmong, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
“Language barriers affect many Asian Americans voters so language assistance is crucial to ensuring that all voters have a positive and safe experience,” said Shikha Bhatnagar, executive director, South Asian Network and volunteer poll monitor. “I feel I have a responsibility, especially as a South Asian American and the daughter of immigrants, to help make sure that no one is turned away at the polls on election day.”
In Southern California, voters who have questions or experience problems with voting can contact Advancing Justice-LA through the following Asian language voter lines, which will be live on Election Day:
In addition to protecting voters, Advancing Justice-LA is proud to be working with 20 AAPI organizations as part of the “Your Vote Matters” campaign to get out the Asian American and Pacific Islander vote in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The non-partisan campaign will make more than 45,000 calls in 11 AAPI languages and English, to turnout voters and to support Propositions 55 and 57.