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National Issues

Asian American Groups Dismayed by U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholding Voter ID Law PDF  | Print |  Email
By Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund   
April 28, 2008
Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 34-year old national civil rights organization, expressed its dismay with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in two consolidated cases, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, which rejected a constitutional challenge to the Indiana law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification before they can vote. 

AALDEF, with pro bono co-counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, had filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of twenty-five Asian American groups, detailing the problems of restrictive voter ID laws, especially for racial and language minority voters.

Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said, “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the real-life impacts of voter ID laws in deterring Asian American and other minority citizens from exercising their right to vote."

AALDEF and the Asian American groups have monitored elections across the country over the last decade and found that voter ID requirements have discriminatory impacts on Asian American voters.  AALDEF's  exit poll of almost 11,000 Asian American voters in 23 cities in eight states in the 2004 elections revealed how voter ID laws place additional burdens on the right to vote:
• In New York, identification is not required to vote, but 23% of all Asian American voters surveyed were asked to show ID.  Of those, 69% were not required to do so under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires only a limited group of first-time voters to present ID.  In Chinatown, a police officer turned away all Asian American voters who did not have a photo ID with them.

• In New Jersey, where identification is not required to vote, 25% of all voters surveyed had to provide identification; of those voters, 51% were not required to show ID under HAVA.  One elderly first-time Korean American voter was asked to provide several forms of identification.  After he presented his voter registration card and other documents from the Board of Elections, he was still required to show a driver’s license, utility bills, and other forms of ID before he could vote.

• In Massachusetts, 24% of Asian American voters were asked to show identification; of those, 57% were not required to show ID under HAVA.  One voter presented his United States passport but was told that it was insufficient.  The voter was turned away.

• In Virginia, where some form of identification is required from all voters, a South Asian voter complained that he was asked to show identification, but his white companion was not required to show any identification whatsoever.
Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF staff attorney, said, “AALDEF will continue to monitor poll sites to ensure that such requirements are not misapplied and not applied only to Asian American voters.”

The following organizations joined AALDEF on the brief:

Asian American Bar Association of New York

Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley

Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts

Asian Pacific American Agenda Coalition

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area

Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey

Asian Pacific Islander American Vote

Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia

Chinatown Voter Education Alliance

Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia

Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership

Korean American Bar Association of New Jersey

Korean American League for Civic Action

Korean American Resource & Cultural Center

Korean American Voters’ Council of NY & NJ

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

Organization of Chinese Americans

ONE Lowell                                 

Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Providence Youth Student Movement

The Sikh Coalition

South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow

South Asian Youth Action!

Vietnamese American Initiative for Development

YKASEC – Empowering the Korean American Community

AALDEF's amicus brief in the Crawford case can be downloaded  here.
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