Asian American voters back Democrats, report finds

The Asian American vote in the 2016 presidential election was discussed May 23 at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.

Jerry Vattamala of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund spoke about the Asian American vote in 2016 on May 23 at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.)

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) conducted an exit poll of 13,846 Asian American voters across 14 states and Washington, DC. It was the nation’s largest nonpartisan multilingual exit poll, with results reported April 18, said Jerry Vattamala, director of the Democracy program at AALDEF.

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country and have the highest rates of naturalization. Despite facing numerous barriers, Asian Americans made their voices heard, particularly in close elections. AALDEF will continue to mobilize volunteers to protect all voters in as many jurisdictions as possible, including in the 2017 elections in New York City, Boston, New Jersey, and Virginia,” said Jerry Vattamala, AALDEF Democracy Program Director.

In Massachusetts, AALDEF has worked with community organizations on bilingual ballots for Asian Americans, which is a provision under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Lowell and Malden were required to provide bilingual ballots under the Voting Rights Act, with materials in Cambodian for Lowell and Chinese for Malden. Boston provides bilingual ballots and language assistance in Chinese and Vietnamese under state law.

The exit poll found the overwhelming majority of Asian Americans backed Democratic candidates for president and Congress. The majority of Asian American voters also supported stricter gun control laws, comprehensive immigration reform, and laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, while half of Asian American voters polled did not think the police treated racial and ethnic groups equally.

The 2016 exit poll was conducted in Boston, primarily in Dorchester with the Vietnamese community, Vattamala said.

For Boston’s Asian residents who don’t speak Vietnamese or Chinese, they can bring someone to the polling station with them. Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act allows voters who cannot see, mark or read a ballot to be assisted by any person of their choice in the voting booth, Vattamala said.

AALDEF is a national organization that protects and protects the civil rights of Asian Americans through litigation, legal advocacy and community education. For more information about AALDEF, visit www.aaldef.org.

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About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England 舢舨報紙總編輯。舢舨是全紐英倫唯一的中英雙語雙週報。
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