AALDEF 2010 Exit Polling Shows APIA Voting Trends, Documents Voter Disenfranchisement

November 5, 2010

The Asiam American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released the preliminary findings of their exit polling of the 2010 Mid-term elections.

Looks like, in the Mideast, APIAs are strongly Democratic:

In the traditionally Democratic northeastern states of New York and Massachusetts, Asian Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates Andrew Cuomo in NY (Cuomo-82%, Paladino-13%) and Deval Patrick in MA (Patrick-84%, Baker-14%).  Cuomo won the election 61% to 34%, and Patrick was re-elected with a 6-point margin, 48% to 42%.  In New York, AALDEF’s exit poll was conducted at 18 poll sites in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.  In Massachusetts, AALDEF polled voters at 4 sites in Boston and Lowell.

In a carefully-watched New York State Senate race, Democratic candidate Tony Avella unseated long-time Republican incumbent Frank Padavan in Senate District 11 in Queens.  Padavan had been criticized by community groups for his anti-immigrant positions.  According to a local poll conducted by AALDEF community partner MinKwon Center for Community Action, 89% of Korean American voters favored Democratic candidate Avella, and 11% of those polled supported Padavan.  Avella defeated Padavan by 53% to 47% of all district voters.

In Pennsylvania, among Asian American voters polled at 4 sites in Philadelphia’s Chinatown and Upper Darby, PA, 78% voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, with 18% supporting Republican candidate Tom Corbett. Corbett won 54% of the Pennsylvania vote, with 45% for Onorato.

Unusually, APIA voters in the South skewed somewhat Republican, with a slight majority voting for Governor Rick Perry despite his questionable use of an image of Yao Ming in one of his political attack ads (and his subsequent snubbing of Asian American groups for questioning his intentions):

Asian American voter preferences in Texas and Georgia more closely reflected the broader state electorates that have traditionally favored Republicans.  Asian American voters favored the re-election of Republican Governor Rick Perry by a small margin (Perry-50%, White-48%); Perry was re-elected by a vote of 55% to 42%.  In Georgia, Asian American voters favored Republican candidate Nathan Deal (50%) over Democratic candidate Roy Barnes (46%).  Deal won the gubernatorial election 53% to 43%.  Asian American voters in Texas were surveyed at 7 poll sites in Houston and Sugar Land.  In Georgia, the AALDEF exit poll was conducted at 4 sites in the Atlanta area:  Suwanee, Doraville, Norcross and Duluth.

In AALDEF’s survey, it seems as if only APIA voters may have swung the outcome of the election only in Perry’s race. Which begs the question — why would Texan Asian Americans support a governor who dismisses so casually our constituency? Does this underscore a disparity between politically-active Asian Americans, and the casual Asian American voter? What precedence does this set for future candidates seeking higher office in districts with significant (but not overwhelmingly large) Asian American groups — that we don’t mind a snub?

Or am I reading too much into this?

AALDEF also documented the following complaints from voting centers:

New York:

  • Widespread complaints about the illegible paper ballots in New York City, because Chinese/Korean characters and English-language fonts were too small
  • In Manhattan’s Chinatown, I.S. 131 had only English and Korean-language voting instructions available for the predominantly Chinese American voters at this site.
  • Asian American voters complained about rude conduct by poll workers at I.S. 131 in Manhattan’s Chinatown and P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
  • Despite federal mandates under the Voting Rights Act, several interpreter shortages were reported, including at P.S. 20 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side (no Chinese interpreters; 3 required); P.S. 12 in Woodside, Queens (2 Chinese interpreters; 4 required)


  • At Benjamin Franklin House in Philadelphia, an Asian American couple came to vote; the wife’s name was on the voter list, her husband’s name was not.  Poll workers turned away the husband and did not give him a provisional ballot, as required under HAVA.
  • At Lowell Elementary School in Philadelphia, Khmer and Vietnamese translators were not present at the poll site.  When Cambodian American voters asked for assistance, poll workers did not know what to do or referred them to some hotline without any instructions.
  • Also at Lowell Elementary School in Philadelphia, an Asian American voter needed her son to help her vote because she was limited English proficient.  She was told to wait over an hour until after several others voted.

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