New Findings on the 2012 Asian American Vote in NY: 86% Voted for Obama and 67% Support Immigration Reform

March 21, 2013 -- 86% of Asian Americans polled in New York voted for President Obama and two-thirds support immigration reform, according to the results of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) exit poll in New York, released today. AALDEF conducted a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 4,089 Asian American voters in New York in the November 2012 elections, the largest survey of its kind.

“Asian Americans are a rapidly growing portion of the electorate in New York,” said AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung. "Elected officials and candidates should understand the policy priorities of Asian American voters, from the economy to immigration reform.”

86% of Asian Americans polled in New York voted for President Obama, compared to 77% of those polled nationally by AALDEF. Among Asian New Yorkers surveyed, 69% were Democrats, 8% were Republicans. and 20% were not enrolled in any party.

The findings also indicate that two out of three Asian Americans (67%) polled in New York supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. 70% of those who voted for Obama supported immigration reform, and almost half (49%) of those who voted for Romney supported immigration reform.

“As Senator Charles Schumer and the 'Gang of Eight' are poised to propose an immigration overhaul, our exit poll indicates that Asian Americans stand strongly behind comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship,” said Fung.

On Election Day, AALDEF polled Asian American voters in 37 cities across 14 states and documented voting problems. In New York, AALDEF conducted the exit poll in counties with large Asian American populations: New York (Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), and Queens Counties. The largest Asian ethnic groups in the New York exit poll were Chinese (43%), Bangladeshi (20%), Korean (11%), Asian Indian (11%), Filipino (4%), and Indo-Caribbean (3%).

Across all ethnic groups, limited English proficiency was high. 45% of Asian Americans in New York spoke English less than “very well” compared to 37% of all Asian Americans nationally. Korean Americans had the highest rate of limited English proficiency at 69%, followed by 51% of Chinese Americans, and 48% of Bangladeshi Americans.

AALDEF Democracy Program Director Glenn Magpantay said: "We must ensure that the New York City Board of Elections meets its obligations under the Voting Rights Act to provide language assistance in Chinese, Korean, and Bengali. With the upcoming 2013 mayoral and citywide elections, it is critical for the Board of Elections to fix the election process so that Asian Americans and all New Yorkers can exercise their right to vote."

“New York’s voting process and language assistance must accommodate its increasingly diverse electorate,” said Jerry Vattamala, staff attorney with AALDEF. “New York must continue to gather information about various ethnic groups to determine whether or not counties need to provide language assistance in elections, and the Board of Elections must continue to work with voting rights organizations to ensure that it is meeting its federally mandated requirements for interpreters, signs, and bilingual ballots.”

Magpantay presented the exit poll results at the offices of Dickstein Shapiro in New York City. Key findings on “The Asian American Vote in the 2012 Presidential Election” include the following:

Asian Americans are a growing portion of the New York electorate.

  • In the 2012 elections, 29% of Asian Americans were first time voters. Of the Asian American voters surveyed, more than 1 out of 3 (34%) in Brooklyn, almost 1 in 3 (30%) in Queens, and 1 out of 5 (20%) in Manhattan were first-time voters.

A majority of Asian Americans favored comprehensive immigration reform.

  • 67% of Asian Americans in New York supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with the highest support from 80% of Bangladeshi, 78% of Indo-Caribbean, 76% of Korean, 76% of Filipino, 68% of Asian Indian, and 56% of Chinese American voters.
  • 70% of those who voted for Obama supported immigration reform, and almost half (49%) of those who voted for Romney supported immigration reform.

  • 70% of those who voted for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand supported immigration reform. In all of the races for House of Representatives, the majority of Asian American voters supported immigration reform.
  • 71% of Democrats, 59% of Republicans, and 60% not enrolled in any political party supported immigration reform.

The majority of Asian Americans in New York voted for the Democratic candidate for Congress and President.

  • 83% of Asian Americans in New York voted for incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, compared to 9% for Wendy Long.

  • In all of the congressional districts surveyed, at least 75% of Asian Americans voted for the Democratic candidate for House of Representatives.

  • In the presidential race, 86% of Asian Americans in New York voted for Barack Obama. The highest support came from South Asian voters: 97% of Bangladeshi and Indo-Caribbean and 89% of Asian Indian Americans.

  • Support for President Obama was consistent across all categories, including first-time (90%), foreign-born (87%), native-born (87%), limited English proficient (87%) and English proficient (85%) voters, and voters of all age groups.

  • The major factors influencing the Asian American vote in New York were economy/jobs (52%), health care (36%), civil rights/immigrants rights (29%), education (25%), women’s issues (13%), and terrorism/security (11%).

Asian Americans in New York have higher levels of limited English proficiency.

  • 45% of Asian Americans in New York spoke English less than “very well” compared to 37% of all Asian Americans nationally. Korean Americans had the highest rate of limited English proficiency at 69%, followed by 51% of Chinese Americans, and 48% of Bangladeshi Americans.

Voting barriers persisted.

Voters were asked if they encountered any voting problems. Below are the numbers of complaints:

  • 1120 were required to show identification though 706 of them were not first-time voters and therefore not required to show ID.

  • 120 were required to prove their U.S. citizenship.

  • 211 indicated that their names were missing or had errors in the voter lists at poll sites.

  • 136 had to vote by affidavit ballot.

  • 116 voters indicated that poll workers were not informed.

  • 97 voters indicated that poll workers were rude or hostile.

  • 74 voters indicated that no interpreters or translated materials were available when needed.

  • 61 were directed to the wrong polling place or the wrong voting machine or table within a site.

VIEW THE PRESENTATION >

View release online >

Contact:

Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 x.217
usehgal@aaldef.org

About the Exit Poll:

AALDEF’s multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys.  AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. In 2012, more than 100 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 800 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans. A list of co-sponsoring organizations and law firms follows below. 

About AALDEF:

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

2012 ASIAN AMERICAN EXIT POLL - Co-Sponsoring Organizations and Law Firms

National Co-Sponsors

Alliance of South Asian American Labor

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

APIAVote

Common Cause

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

National Korean Amer. Service & Education Consortium

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

North American South Asian Bar Association

OCA (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans)

South Asian Americans Leading Together

Local Co-Sponsors

ACCESS – MI

APALA – Nevada

APIA Vote – Michigan

Asian American Society of Central Virginia

Boat People SOS Delaware Valley – PA

CAAAV – NY

Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia

Center for Pan Asian Community Services – GA

Chhaya CDC - NY

Chinese-American Planning Council – NY

Chinese Community Federation of Atlanta

Chinese Progressive Association – MA

Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia

East Coast Asian American Student Union

Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York

Hunter College/CUNY, Asian American Studies Program – NY

Korean American Civic Empowerment of NY/NJ

Korean American Resource and Cultural Center - IL

MinKwon Center for Community Action – NY

NAAAP – New York

NAAAP – Philadelphia

NANAY – FL                  

NAPAWF – DC

NAPAWF – New York City

OCA: Georgia

OCA: Greater Houston

OCA: Greater Philadelphia

OCA: Greater Washington DC

OCA: Northern Virginia

OCA: South Florida

Pace University, ACE House – NY

Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation

Princeton Asian American Students Association – NJ

Q-WAVE – NY

South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association of New York

U. California San Diego, Lambda Phi Epsilon

U. Maryland, College Park, Asian American Studies Prog.

U. Massachusetts Boston, Asian American Studies Prog.

Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans

Legal Co-Sponsors

Asian American Bar Association of Houston 

Asian American Bar Association of New York

Asian American Lawyers Assoc. of Massachusetts

Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia

Asian Bar Association of Las Vegas – NV

Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Wash., DC

Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Pennsylvania

Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of South Florida

Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ        

Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center – DC

Boston University School of Law, APALSA – MA

Brooklyn Law School, APALSA – NY

Columbia Law School, APALSA – NY

Filipino Amer. Legal Defense & Educ. Fund, Inc. – NY

Georgetown Law, APALSA – DC

Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association 

Greater Boston Legal Services: Asian Outreach Unit

Harvard Law School, APALSA – MA

Korean Amer. Bar Assoc. of the Washington DC Area

Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater NY

Louisiana Asian Pacific American Bar Association 

Muslim American Bar Association of New York

New England School of Law, APALSA – MA

Pace Law School, Public Interest Law Center – NY

Rutgers School of Law-Newark, APALSA - NJ

South Asian Bar Association of New York

South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC

Suffolk U. Law Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, APALSA

U. Penn. Law, Public Interest Office and APALSA

Law Firm Co-Sponsors

Alston & Bird LLP

Ballard Spahr LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Duane Morris LLP

Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

Fowler White Boggs

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Hogan Lovells

K&L Gates LLP

Kaye Scholer LLP

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

McCarter & English LLP

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Pepper Hamilton LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP

Ropes & Gray LLP

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

White & Case LLP



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