HomeAsian AmericansExit poll of Asian Americans to be conducted in 13 states

Exit poll of Asian Americans to be conducted in 13 states

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund will fan 13 states and the District of Columbia Tuesday to conduct the largest exit poll of Asian American voters in the nation.

Legal teams will also be inside polling sites guarding against voter suppression.

“Our goal is that elected officials understand the Asian American electorate and will respond to the needs of the community,” Jerry Vattamalla of AALDEF told AsAmNews. “Right now the community is being ignored by mainstream media and that translates to the community being ignored and not being served well.”

400 attorneys, legal students and community volunteers will be in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California, Nevada, Michigan as well as the District of Columbia.

The poll has been conducted every presidential election since 1984 when it was conducted in only Manhattan Chinatown. It has expanded every presidential election since. The poll has also been held in some midterm elections.

Legal teams will also be at 93 poll sites monitoring for violations of the Voting Rights Act. Violations found in past years include poll workers disallowing voters with Limited English Proficiency from voting with the help with a friend or family member. The Voting Rights Act allows for that, but many poll workers don’t know that, Vattamalla said. The Act also allows minors to help with voting. The only people disallowed from going into the voting booth with a voter are union leaders and bosses.

When the legal teams witness acts of suppression, they immediately step in.

“That’s the beauty of our program. We have our volunteers trained up in advance of election day. When something happens, most of the time we’re able to remedy the problem in real time and allow the registrant to vote,” he said.

Only 27 counties in the United States provide bilingual ballots in Asian languages.

Other violations witnessed in previous years include out and out discrimination against Asian American voters, especially those who do not speak English as their first language. Vattamalla says some poll workers resent the Asian voters who have moved into their neighborhood and take it out on them by denying them the right to vote.

In addition, spelling errors often make it difficult for poll workers to find Asian voters on the voting rolls. Those voters are sometimes turned away when they should be given a provisional ballot until the situation can be cleared up.

“What we report, that’s just a snapshot of what’s going on in the country. That’s scary because we actually encounter a lot of problems,” Vattamalla said.

Exit polling will be conducted outside 50 polling sites.

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