2004 Exit Poll Analysis Provides Insight into South Asian Voting Trends
New York, NY – South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) presented an analysis of findings gathered from a multilingual exit poll conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) during the November 2004 elections on May 2nd. The poll, which surveyed 2,636 South Asian voters in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, and Virginia, reveals valuable information about voting trends and patterns.
“Striking conclusions can be drawn from the data,” said Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of SAALT. “For 42 percent of the South Asians polled, this was the first election in which they had voted. Additionally, 88 percent of the South Asians who voted are foreign-born. This emphasizes the need for voter education and registration campaigns to include strategies such as naturalization drives and outreach tailored to South Asians who have arrived more recently.”
The data also revealed that South Asians chose “civil liberties” as the civil/immigrant rights issue most important in their lives. “The South Asian community has endured increased incidents of bias and immigration enforcement since September 11th,” added SAALT Board Member, Jayesh Rathod. “Our own work through dialogues with community leaders also echoes the importance of civil liberties as a prominent issue in the lives of South Asians, one that needs to be addressed in various contexts by policymakers, candidates, and advocates.”
SAALT has produced a backgrounder that interprets the data from the multilingual exit poll and makes recommendations to improve South Asian political participation in the future. The recommendations reflect specific action steps for local boards of elections, community leaders, elected officials, policymakers, political party leaders and candidates. They include:
* Strengthen, expand and support nonpartisan efforts that mobilize South Asian voters through
naturalization and citizenship drives, voter registration efforts, voter education campaigns, and Election Day mobilization efforts to include voters in newer South Asian communities.
- Implement policies and programs that will create a larger eligible voter base in immigrant communities, including immigration reform that offers individuals clearer and easier paths to citizenship; the reduction of citizenship backlogs; and less stringent naturalization requirements.
- Hire, recruit and train South Asian poll workers.
- Offer voluntary language assistance for South Asian voters. Specifically, materials in Gujarati, Bengali and Urdu would be helpful to South Asians in parts of New Jersey and New York City.
To receive a copy of the backgrounder, please visit www.saalt.org or contact us at email@example.com. South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering full and equal participation by South Asians in the civic and political life of America.
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