Friday, April 16

Challenges at the Polls for Asian American Voters

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AAJC Submits Testimony to Senate Judiciary Committee Revealing
Challenges at the Polls for Asian American Voters

WASHINGTON—The Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for today’s hearing on the State of the Right to Vote after the 2012 Election. The hearing was prompted by numerous reports of adverse voting laws and practices that impaired the right to vote for many Americans.

“I applaud Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley for holding this important hearing to examine the state of the right to vote. Our work during the 2012 election cycle tells us that more steps need to be taken to protect the rights of Asian Americans to vote,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of AAJC. “While I am encouraged by the increased participation and voter turnout by the Asian American community, AAJC remains steadfast in its efforts to ensure elections officials are adequately trained to prevent problems and to rectify voting issues as they arise on Election Day.”

AAJC’s testimony reveals numerous incidents from around the country of Asian American voters experiencing discrimination or being denied assistance at the polls. Many jurisdictions that were required to provide language assistance under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act experienced serious problems providing quality translated materials, effective community outreach, or bilingual poll workers during the 2012 election cycle. Some jurisdictions even refused to comply with Section 203 requirements. The testimony also outlines the lack of understanding among poll workers about other federal laws requiring assistance for voters who cannot read or write English, which led to denial of assistance to Asian American voters. These experiences highlight the continuing need for protections against efforts to limit or suppress voting, especially for limited-English proficient voters.

The testimony emphasizes the importance of improving poll worker training on language assistance rights and encourages jurisdictions to work with community leaders to ensure that translated materials are of high quality. AAJC and the members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice will release a report in early 2013 analyzing the effectiveness of language assistance across the country and provide best practices and recommendations for implementation.

AAJC’s testimony can be found here.