By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – Eight of every 10 Asian Pacific American voters in Nevada voted for President Obama, according to the most recent exit poll.
The 80 percent turnout surpassed any voting group in the country, and pushed Asian Pacific Americans to 73 percent for Obama nationwide, the most by any ethnic group, other than African-Americans.
“As the fastest growing minority group in the country, Asian Americans gave overwhelming support to President Barack Obama at 73% nationwide, exceeding even Latino support of Obama at 71%,” said Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
More than 90 percent of blacks voted for President Obama.
The Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group sent over 800 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to 14 states to document voter problems on Election Day and to conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll in 13 languages, Fung said.
She said only the results from Nevada and Virginia have so far been released. The full results from the national exit polls are forthcoming.
In Nevada, AALDEF partnered with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) to conduct the exit polls.
APALA surveyed more than 335 Asian Pacific American voters at several poll sites, according to Gloria Caoili, the APALA Las Vegas chapter president.
“Our preliminary exit poll data shows that 80.7 percent of Asian American voters in Nevada voted for Barack Obama. 79.2 percent voted for the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate (Shelley Berkley) and 79.5 percent voted for the Democratic nominee in the U.S. House of Representatives (Steven Horsford), Caoili said.
She said that 26 percent of those polled were first-time voters. Of the Asian American voters not registered with any political party, 83.9 percent voted for Barack Obama.
In Virginia, 71.9 percent of Asian Americans voted for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine., AALDEF reported.
A group of elderly Korean-Americans at the polls in Annandale were asked to stand in a separate line from white voters. Even after presenting documents, the poll authorities demanded that they say their names and home addresses out loud in English – which was difficult and embarrassing for those with limited English proficiency.
The poll workers grew frustrated that the seniors didn’t understand the instructions, and then ordered all the Korean Americans waiting to vote: “Korean people stand in a separate line.” The poll workers began talking to white voters, while the Korean Americans had to wait, AALDEF said.
“As Asian Americans sought to have their voices heard in this crucial presidential election, they were treated differently at the polls,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, Democracy Program Director at AALDEF. “We are still struggling for equal access to the ballot.”
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