News

11.08.2022

Poll Watching Results from November 8 Midterm Elections

For Immediate Release 

Contacts: 

Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 

224-289-5486, khsia@advancingjustice-chicago.org 

Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 

415-234-0748, KLeung@advancingjustice-chicago.org 

For Immediate Release  

CHICAGO, IL — November 8, 2022 – Illinois voters went to the polls today to elect their governor, junior U.S. senator, and 17 of Illinois’ representatives in the U.S. Congress, and other key races and issues.  

Advancing Justice | Chicago dispatched a team of staff and volunteer poll watchers to 96 precincts and three vote centers in Chicago, and 103 precincts in Suburban Cook County. Our poll watching program focuses on monitoring precincts where there are high number of Asian voters with limited English proficiency (LEP). “Most of the precincts that we monitor are designated as protected precincts under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Kimberly Leung, Voting Rights Legal Fellow at Advancing Justice | Chicago. Because of the recent precinct consolidation in Chicago, we decided to expand the scope of our poll watching program to cover additional locations not covered under Section 203, out of concern that LEP voters at certain polling places may not be getting the in-language assistance they need.  

In addition to poll watching, we sent interpreters to certain precincts to help voters who want assistance. Bharat Sharma, ISP community organizer at Advancing Justice | Chicago, who speaks Hindi, Gujarati, and Urdu, spent his afternoon greeting and helping voters at Warren Park in West Ridge. “I was surprised and inspired to see so many first time, immigrant voters,” Sharma said, “It was my privilege to be part of their voting experience.”  

A likely consequence of the recent precinct consolidation, Advancing Justice | Chicago poll watchers also observed voters at the wrong polling place across Chicago. Anticipating this situation, our poll watchers were trained and equipped to direct voters to their correct polling place or vote center.  

In suburban Cook County, Advancing Justice poll watchers not only monitored for compliance with Section 203 but also for the Vote Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance, which was unanimously passed in October 2019. The Ordinance expands the number of languages that suburban Cook County ballots and voting material must be translated into. “Though the passage of the VOTE Ordinance was a significant step, our poll watchers observed that compliance remains spotty,” said Leung. Many of our poll watchers in suburban Cook County observed missing translated signages. Additionally, many of the precincts that were supposed to have bilingual poll workers did not. The issues observed in suburban Cook County underscore the importance of community engagement, and continued investment in language access.  

Thanks to Advancing Justice | Chicago staff and volunteer poll watchers, we were able to monitor over 95 percent of the designated Asian language precincts in Chicago and Cook County. In December, Advancing Justice will share a summary of our Election Day findings with the Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Election with the goal of strengthening meaningful access for future elections. 

Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Thank you to our staff and volunteer poll watchers, and our partners and sponsors, including Arab American Family Services, Enlivant, Asian American Bar Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), and South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI). 

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at www.advancingjustice-chicago.org.

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11.07.2022

Advancing Justice | Chicago: Poll Watching for Nov 8 Midterm Elections

For Immediate Release 

Contacts: 

Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 

224-289-5486, khsia@advancingjustice-chicago.org 

Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 

415-234-0748, KLeung@advancingjustice-chicago.org 

CHICAGO, IL — November 7, 2022 – The Illinois Midterm Election is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8. The ballot includes races for governor, congressional seats, state legislative offices, and a variety of local positions. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago continues its long-running poll watching program in Chicago and Cook County. The goal of our nonpartisan program is to ensure that all eligible voters have fair and equitable access to the polls, with particular attention to historically disenfranchised communities like Asian Americans and immigrants.  

Though Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country and in the state of Illinois, Asian Americans face a number of barriers when it comes to voting, including a lack of language access. Asian Americans are made up of linguistically diverse communities. Seventy-seven percent of Asian Americans in Illinois speak a language other than English at home, and of those, approximately 38% speak English less than “very well.”  

Our poll watching program focuses on monitoring precincts where there are high number of voters with limited English proficiency. In Chicago and suburban Cook County, there are certain precincts that are required to have translated ballots, signages and bilingual poll workers. Our staff and volunteers poll watchers visit these voting locations to ensure that they are in compliance with federal and local laws governing language access.  

Due to changes resulting from Chicago’s precinct consolidation, there are additional concerns this election as to whether voters with limited English proficiency (LEP) will have access to the information and assistance they need. In addition to our poll watching program, we will have volunteer interpreters at certain precincts available to help voters who want assistance. Under the federal Voting Rights Act, LEP voters have the right to bring an interpreter of their choice to assist them with voting, with the limited exception that the person they bring cannot be their employer or union representative.  

This Midterm Election, our staff and volunteers will, cover 96 precincts and three voter centers in Chicago, and 102 precincts in Suburban Cook County.   

In suburban Cook County, the Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance, which was passed in October 2019, requires certain precincts to have translated materials in Korean, Tagalog, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Gujarati and Urdu.  In addition to monitoring the Asian language precincts, Advancing Justice | Chicago will also be poll watching at the Arabic language precincts in partnership with Arab American Family Services.  

When: Tuesday, November 8, 2022   

Where: Chicago and Suburban Cook County   

What: Advancing Justice | Chicago staff and volunteer poll watchers will be stationed at polling places across Chicago and Suburban Cook County to monitor for compliance with language access and other requirements.  In total, our staff and volunteers will cover 96 precincts and three voter centers in Chicago, and 102 precincts in Suburban Cook County.    During visits, poll watchers will check for language and disability access and ensure voter harassment and disenfranchisement do not occur.   

Additional info:   

If you have any questions about voting, you can call the Election Protection Hotline. Call 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) for assistance in Bengali, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese. Call 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) for assistance in Spanish. For assistance in English, call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).  

Downloadable Factsheet: How to Vote in Illinois for the Nov. 8 General Election 

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at www.advancingjustice-chicago.org. 

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11.04.2022

Asian Americans Condemn Deceitful, Racist Mailers from Stephen Miller-Led Group

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CONTACT: Grace Pai (Executive Director) gpai@advancingjustice-chicago.org, Seong-Ah Cho (Organizing Director) scho@advancingjustice-chicago.org 

Asian Americans Condemn Deceitful, Racist Mailers from Stephen Miller-Led Group 

CHICAGO – As Asian Americans continue to be the fastest growing demographic in Illinois and across the country, a group led by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller is flooding the state with deceitful and racist mailers aimed at misleading and sowing fear in the Asian American community. 

The racist mailers were sent by the America First Legal Foundation, the conservative organization founded by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller. Miller has a long history of peddling racist hate and division. Miller was the architect behind the Trump administration’s family separation program, a brutally inhumane anti-immigrant policy which led to the widespread images of kids in cages that shocked the nation, and author of Trump’s widely condemned travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries.  

“Stephen Miller led the most xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda imaginable under the Trump administration and has demonstrated time and time again that he does not care about Asian Americans,” said Grace Pai, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “The fact that Miller directly contributed to stoking up violence and hatred against Asian Americans and other immigrants and is now attempting to displace that blame is clearly in bad faith. These mailers are blatantly racist fear-mongering in an attempt to mislead and scare Asian Americans and divide us from our fellow communities of color.” 

The mailers are part of a coordinated campaign by the America First Legal Foundation. Outside of Illinois, mailers have been received in Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, California, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, and Texas over the past week. Since its formation in 2021, the right-wing group has a long history of using divisive rhetoric and misinformation. 

“Asian American communities have a clear and shared stake in racial equity issues like affirmative action, immigration reform, affordable housing, and access to healthcare alongside Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and all marginalized communities,” said Seong-Ah Cho, Organizing Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “We will continue to educate our communities and fight together for policies that genuinely represent the interests of our diverse communities. We will not be deterred by those who wish to silence and divide us.” 

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at advancingjustice-chicago.org. 

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10.28.2022

Asian American Civil Rights Orgs: We Need Affirmative Action to Counter Systemic Racism in Education

October 28, 2022

For Immediate Release
CONTACT
Michelle Boykins(202) 296-2300, ext. 0144mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Vivin Qiang202-780-9327vqiang@advancingjustice-aajc.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of oral arguments before the Supreme Court in SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina on October 31, Asian Americans Advancing Justice is calling on the court to affirm the constitutional right to affirmative action, a long-held precedent that is still needed to counter systemic racism and white supremacy in our education systems and is supported by more than two-thirds of Asian Americans.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent Asian American civil rights organizations, issued the following statement:

“Let’s be clear about the motivations behind these cases: extremist strategist Edward Blum and his vast network of funders are pursuing a decades-long campaign to divide communities of color and strip away educational opportunities and voting rights from Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian communities – and deliberately attempting to use Asian American students and families as a racial wedge for their political gain.

“We know the truth. It is rampant throughout our history, whether it is the California law that permitted segregation of ‘children of Mongolian or Chinese descent’ until 1947 or all the ways systemic racism today has blocked many Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students from accessing high quality K-12 and college education.

“As we wrote in our amicus brief, abandoning affirmative action and race-conscious admissions will undo the progress that has been hard fought across generations, and impedes the changes we still need to make quality education a reality for all students, regardless of their wealth, their family connections, or their race and ethnicity. We urge the court to uphold the constitutional right to affirmative action that has made education better for countless students, including Asian American students, for more than 40 years.”

Civil rights organizations including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Legal Defense Fund, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights are united in our support for race-conscious admissions policies that improve access to education for all students. In August, the Advancing Justice affiliation filed two amicus curiae briefs, including one with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter on behalf of a multiracial group of alumni students of color at Harvard who served as amici-plus and presented evidence at trial in support of holistic admissions policies that consider the entirety of a student’s experiences, talents, and potential.

The second amicus curiae brief, written with pro bono counsel Ballard Spahr, was joined by 37 Asian American and Pacific Islander civil rights groups, advocacy organizations, professionals, and student organizations in support of race-conscious admissions and the enduring need for these programs to counter systemic racism and white supremacy in our education systems.

On Monday morning, many of these signatories will join students and community members from across the country to rally for affirmative action and race-conscious admissions on the Supreme Court steps. To find reaction panels and other post-oral arguments events and analysis, follow #DefendDiversity and #AffirmOpportunity on Twitter.

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