Without the VRA, many Asian Americans would not have been able to access the ballot.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug., 4, 2015) — In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) this week, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC today releases a report “50 Years of the Voting Rights Act: An Asian American Perspective,” detailing the impact the law has had on Asian Americans’ ability to access the ballot.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country and are naturalizing and registering to vote – expecting to make up 10 percent of the electorate by 2044. With this increase in population, comes the opportunity to shape future elections and the future direction of the country. The VRA was intended to ensure that all Americans are able to freely and equally participate in our democracy without discrimination.
“Voting rights and accessing the ballot is a critical concern for the Asian American community. Without the VRA, many Asian Americans wouldn’t have been able to vote,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC.“Most Asians weren’t able to naturalize and become U.S. citizens until 1952, meaning they couldn’t vote. Since then, Asian Americans have often been questioned about their citizenship as an added hurdle to accessing the ballot box. In addition, almost half of Asian American adults are limited English proficient, and without language assistance at the polls, would be unable to cast their ballot.”
Today’s report shows how the VRA has protected the Asian American right to vote, just as it has other communities of color. It also highlights how following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Asian American vote – which is growing rapidly in regions like North Carolina and Georgia that were once covered by Section 5 of the VRA – is now in danger going into the 2016 election, should Congress not restore the VRA in time.
“What’s most concerning is that states in which we are seeing the most rapidly growing Asian American population are also passing the most harmful attacks on voting in state legislatures,” said Terry Ao Minnis, director of census and voting for Advancing Justice | AAJC and author of the report. “For example, immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013, North Carolina, which has the third-fastest growing Asian American population in the country, passed a multitude of strict voting restrictions. On this 50th Anniversary of the VRA, we call on all members of Congress to defend the right to vote, restore the VRA and preserve the ability of all Americans to participate in our democracy.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. working to fight for civil and human rights and empower Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to participate in our democracy. Advancing Justice | AAJC is part of a national affiliation that also includes Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Chicago and Advancing Justice – Los Angeles.