Asian Americans voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump by a huge 79% to 17% margin in Tuesday’s US presidential election, according to a national exit poll conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Three percent voted for other candidates.
The overwhelming Asian American turnout for Clinton contrasts with other exit polls showing that Hispanics, African Americans and millennials in the 18-34 age group underperformed in their expected support for Clinton. The results are based on exit polls with 14,400 Asian American voters who cast ballots.
Asian American voters in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Nevada strongly favored Clinton, the poll showed.
“The extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and racist rhetoric in this election was deeply disturbing to Asian American voters, who wanted to support candidates who shared their values and hope for America,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of the New York-based civil rights organization.
The group sent 950 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to 64 cities in 14 states to document voter problems on Election Day and to conduct a nonpartisan Asian American exit poll in English and 12 Asian languages.
Democracy Program Director Jerry Vattamala said the “poll provides critical information about the Asian American electorate, including limited English proficiency rates, lack of language assistance, and other barriers, such as voters being required to prove their citizenship, remove their religious headscarves, or provide ID because of their race or appearance.”
Asian American voters had to overcome numerous obstacles in order to exercise their right to vote
A number of respondents, including recently naturalized citizens and first-time voters, reported voting barriers at polling places across the country. The incidents ranged from improper requests for voter identification, to inadequate language assistance, absence of provisional ballots, and voters being directed to incorrect polling sites. Discrimination against American Muslim women wearing hijabs or niqabs was also reported.
“Asian American voters had to overcome numerous obstacles in order to exercise their right to vote today,” Vattamala said. “Our attorneys are investigating every complaint, and we will report our findings and observations to local and state election officials, as well as the US Department of Justice.”
In Bensalem, Pennsylvania, some Trump supporters allegedly followed many people entering the polling place and looked over the shoulders of Asian American voters as they marked their choices. Voters were also not given provisional ballots if their names didn’t appear on the electoral rolls as required by law.
In Norcross, Georgia, at the Lucky Shoals Community Center in Gwinnett County, where heavy voter turnout had been expected, Asian American and Latino voters were allegedly not allowed to be assisted by a person of their choice, as required by section 208 of the Voting Rights Act. Voters were said to have waited three hours in line and were sent to the wrong poll sites by local poll workers. Several voting machines broke down, according to the rights group. Poll workers also told voters they had run out of provisional ballots when they wanted to vote.
At Summit on the Park In Canton, Michigan, a poll worker allegedly told an American Muslim female voter to remove her niqab and show her face before showing her voter ID.
Several voters at South Philadelphia Branch Library and Reed Street Presbyterian Apartments in South Philadelphia said they were directed to the wrong poll sites and weren’t given referral slips to the correct sites. Some voters said they were also not offered provisional ballots if their names didn’t appear on the voter rolls.
Vietnamese voters were not offered on-site interpreters at polling places in Philadelphia, though there was a need for such language assistance. Poll workers were also not aware of AT&T Language Line services that might have alleviated the problem.
In New York City, Asian American voters reported improper requests for voter IDs. Asian American voters were allegedly asked to present voter IDs at several poll sites, including PS 217 in Midwood, Brooklyn, and at PS 222 and IS 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens. Voter IDs are not required in NY, except for certain first-time voters.
At PS 217 in Midwood, Bengali women complained they were singled out by poll workers to show their voter ID because they were wearing hijabs.