The Georgia legislature's new restrictions on absentee voting are disproportionately affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voter community, according to a new report.
AAPI voters: Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) Atlanta found that more than 200,000 registered voters identified as being under the AAPI umbrella. Nearly half of these voters participated in the 2022 elections, marking an increase from 39% in the 2018 election cycle. The engagement gap between AAPI and white voters is reportedly closing due to the growth of the AAPI community in Georgia, which has grown by almost 50% in the past decade.
Georgia’s voting law: However, Georgia's new voting laws, particularly SB202, have had a negative impact on AAPI voters. The law, which was passed in 2021, restricts absentee ballots by limiting drop-off locations and the time frame associated with them. AAPI voters, especially older individuals or those who prefer languages other than English, often use vote-by-mail, making these restrictions particularly challenging for them, according to the AAAJ Atlanta report.
"There are a couple counties in Georgia where you can get sample ballots in Asian languages or some voting materials but there is nowhere in Georgia where an Asian American voter who is more comfortable in Vietnamese or in Korean can go to the polls and actually see their ballot and vote in the language that they're more comfortable in," Jennifer Lee, policy director at AAAJ Atlanta and author of the report, told 11Alive.
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Recommended policy changes: The AAAJ report recommends expanding language access or offering ballots in more languages to better serve AAPI voters. It also suggests protecting absentee voting and limiting frivolous voter challenges, especially in areas with a substantial AAPI population, including Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Asian American voters are more likely to have their absentee ballots rejected, which can reportedly discourage civic engagement. AAAJ Atlanta’s goal is to ensure that AAPI voters are not only informed about voting but also feel comfortable and involved in the civic life of Georgia.
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