Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese American Voters Had Highest Vote-by-Mail Rates

LOS ANGELES, CA – Asian American voters are using vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots in large numbers, but also face a higher than average rejection rate according to a new issue brief by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California (Advancing Justice-CA). “Asian Americans Face Higher Than Average Vote-By-Mail Rejection Rates in California” provides general use and rejection rates among Asian American voters based on detailed analysis of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. Taken together, the four counties make up close to half (or 45%) of the Asian American electorate in California.

In the November 2016 election, 58% of all voters in California used a VBM ballot compared to 66% among Asian American voters. Despite a higher rate of VBM ballots, ballot rejection rate among Asian American voters was 15% higher than average (1.02% compared to .89%).

Advancing Justice-CA also found that rates of rejection were higher among young voters and naturalized citizens. “When we examined the intersection between age and nativity, we found the highest rejection rates among Asian Americans to be in the group of voters who are 18-24 year olds and foreign born,” said Joanna Lee, senior demographic research analyst at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, the lead author of the brief. “Their rejection rate was over 2%.”

Among the counties analyzed, a non-matching signature or “signature mismatch” was the most common reason for VBM ballot rejection among all voters but was disproportionately higher among Asian American VBM voters. California recently extended the return date to Election Day and allows voters to fix an unsigned VBM envelope.

“We think signature mismatch should be that next barrier that is addressed,” said Deanna Kitamura, voting rights project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “And we hope election officials and community based organizations use our issue brief as resource for educating voters.”

“With the 52nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, this study emphasizes that there are still barriers that must be eliminated before all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot,” said Jonathan Stein, voting rights program manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

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