March 24, 2023

NEW YORK (Oct. 27, 2016) — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund will dispatch more than 800 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to polling places in 14 states and Washington, D.C. on Election Day.

AALDEF, a 42-year old national civil rights organization, also launched the polling event to document voting problems in the 2016 elections. AALDEF will conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll in 12 languages to get a snapshot of Asian American voting preferences.

“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,” said Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director.

Fung 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.

“In the 2012 elections, Asian Americans had to overcome numerous obstacles to exercise their right to vote,” said Jerry Vattamala, director of the AALDEF Democracy Program. 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 percent were foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens
• 27 percent were first-time voters
• 37 percent were limited English proficient
• 57 percent were Democrats
• 14 percent were Republicans
• 27 percent were not enrolled in any political party
• 77 percent voted for Barack Obama in the last election
• 21 percent voted for Mitt Romney in the last election

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 [email protected].

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

National Co-Sponsors:  Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) • APIAVote • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) • East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) • National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA) • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) • National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) • National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA) • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) • OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates • South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) • South Asian Fund for Education Scholarship Training (SAFEST) • The Sikh Coalition

Local Co-Sponsors:  Adhikaar • American Citizens for Justice / Asian American Center for Justice (ACJ) • Apex for Youth • APIAVote-MI • APIs CAN! • Asian American Bar Association of NY (AABANY) • Asian American Federation of Florida (AAFF) • Asian American Lawyers Association of MA (AALAM) • Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW)  • Asian American Society of Central VA (AASoCV) • Asian Americans United (AAU) • Asian Bar Association of Las Vegas (ABALV) • Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) • Asian Community Development Council (ACDC) • Asian Pacific American Bar Association of PA (APABA-PA)  • Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC) • Asian Pacific American Bar Association of VA, Inc. (APABA-VA) • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) – NV • Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ (APALA-NJ) • Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC)  • Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA Austin) • Austin Asian American Bar Association (AAABA) • Boat People SOS Delaware Valley • Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center • Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS)  • Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) • Chhaya CDC • Chinese Progressive Association (CPA Boston) • Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia (CAPAVA) • Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) • Dallas Asian American Bar Association (DAABA) • Dallas/Fort Worth Asian-American Citizens Council (DFW AACC) • Filipino American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI) • Filipino American Lawyers Association of NY (FALA NY) • Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund (FALDEF) • Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) • Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of NY (GAPIMNY) • Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA) • Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) • Indo-Caribbean Alliance (ICA) • JCI Philippine-NY (Jaycees) • KhushDC • Korean American Bar Association of NJ (KABA-NJ) • Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) • Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater NY (KALAGNY)  • Louisiana Asian Pacific American Bar Association (LAPABA) • Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MAPABA) • MinKwon Center for Community Action • Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY) • NANAY • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum DC Chapter (NAPAWF DC) • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum NYC Chapter (NAPAWF*NYC) • New Mexico Asian Family Center (NMAFC) • OCA Greater Houston  • Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) • Pilipino American Unity for Progress NY (UniPro NY) • South Asian Bar Association of NJ (SABA-NJ) • South Asian Bar Association of NY (SABANY) • South Asian Bar Association of San Diego (SABA-SD) • South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC (SABA-DC) • Southeast Asian Coalition of Massachusetts • Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC) • Strong Families NM, of Forward Together • United Chinese Association of Brooklyn (UCA) • VietLead • Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA) • Voice of Vietnamese Americans (VVA)

Law Firm Co-Sponsors:  Ballard Spahr LLP • Debevoise & Plimpton LLP • Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP • Fish & Richardson P.C. • Hogan Lovells • Hunton & Williams LLP • Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP • McCarter & English LLP • Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP • Ropes & Gray LLP • Shearman & Sterling LLP • Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

School Co-Sponsors:  Brooklyn Law APALSA • Cardozo APALSA • Columbia APALSA  • Columbia School of Social Work API Student Caucus • Drexel APALSA  • Emory Asian Student Organization (ASO) • Georgetown APALSA • Harvard APALSA • Harvard Students Asian Pacific Coalition (HSAPC) • Hunter College Asian American Studies Program • Loyola APALSA • Michigan Law APALSA • NYU APALSA • Penn APALSA • Princeton Asian American Students Association (AASA)  • Santa Clara APALSA • St. John’s APALSA • Temple APALSA • Tufts Asian Student Coalition (TASC) • UMass Boston Asian American Studies • UMD College Park Asian American Studies Program • University of Miami School of Law APALSA • UNLV APALSA • UPenn Asian Pacific Student Coalition (APSC) • UT Austin Center for Asian American Studies

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a New York-based national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.

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