California Voter Foundation Logo

California Voter Participation Survey

Cross-Tabulation Summary Report

Detailed Findings: Asian Pacific Islanders

The respondents to the survey included 100 self-identified Asian Pacific Islander infrequent voters and another 103 self-identified Asian Pacific Islander (API) nonvoters. Further analysis of these API respondents yields additional results.

Right Direction Versus Wrong Track

When asked whether California is going in the right direction or is off on the wrong track, Asian Pacific Islanders responded more positively than other groups. 56% of API infrequent voters think that California is moving in the right direction, compared to 50% of all infrequent voters. 45% of API nonvoters think California is moving in the right direction compared to 40% of all nonvoters. Both API groups are less likely to think California is on the wrong track, and more likely to not know how they feel about the direction of California.

Right Direction / Wrong Track

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

Right Direction

50

56

40

45

Wrong Track

33

17

37

25

Don’t Know

17

27

23

30

 

Importance of Voting

API infrequent voters ascribe similar importance to voting as other infrequent voters. 72% of API infrequent voters think that voting is extremely important or very important. API nonvoters are more likely to say that voting is important when compared to all nonvoters. 58% say that voting is extremely important or very important compared to only 47% of all nonvoters.

Importance of Voting

Infrequent
Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

Extremely important

28

24

22

18

Very important

49

48

25

40

Moderately important

19

21

26

25

Not so important

2

3

13

8

Not at all important

1

2

13

7

 

Most Important Reasons for Not Voting

API infrequent voters have two primary reasons for not voting. The first reason is that there are no candidates that they believe in (31% of API infrequent voters). The second main reason is that they are too busy to vote (29%). This is different than the overall infrequent voters, who cite being busy as a reason for not voting much more frequently than they cite “No candidates that I believe in” (28% cite being busy compared to 20% who do not believe in any candidates).

Similar to all nonvoters, API nonvoters’ most frequent reason for not voting is that they are too busy (24%). Not knowing how or where to register is a strong secondary reason for API nonvoters. 15% of API nonvoters say that not remembering how or where to register to vote is a reason they do not register, compared with only 7% of all nonvoters. A third significant barrier to voting for the API nonvoting population is that it is too hard to get all of the information they need to vote (10% of API voters compared to 5% of all nonvoters).

Most Important Reasons for Not Voting or Registering to Vote

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

I am too busy to vote

28

29

23

24

There are no candidates that I believe in

20

31

10

7

It’s too hard to get all the information I need to vote

9

8

5

10

There are no issues that affect me

6

3

2

5

I don’t remember to vote / I don’t remember how or where to register to vote

6

5

7

15

Voting doesn’t make a difference

3

2

10

5

Too many issues on the ballot

2

2

3

2

My polling place moves constantly

*

*

N/A

N/A

*Less than one percent.

Barriers in the Voting Process

The degree of difficulty API infrequent voters attribute to specific barriers is similar to that of all infrequent voters.  Like all other infrequent voters, the largest barriers to voting for API infrequent voters include difficulty understanding the voter information pamphlet (21%) and getting necessary information (21%). Voting by absentee ballot was described as difficult by 10% of the respondents, compared to 6% of all infrequent voters.

For all API infrequent voters, getting voter materials in their preferred language was described as difficult by only 8% of the respondents. For those who took the survey in Cantonese, 14% said it was difficult to get voter materials in their preferred language. However, this group is small in sample size, and the results should be interpreted with caution.

The following table details results regarding barriers in the voting process for all API infrequent voters.

Voting Process (API Infrequent Voters)

Very Easy

Some-what Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Reading and understanding the voter information pamphlet

37

36

21

6

Getting the information necessary to make your voting decision

38

33

21

8

Getting voter materials in your preferred language*

69

14

8

9

Voting by absentee ballot

26

14

10

50

Voting at your polling place

62

20

9

9

Finding your polling place

69

18

8

5

Registering to vote

70

23

6

1

*These percentages reflect all API respondents. Of those who completed the interviews in Cantonese: 54% said very easy, 20% said somewhat easy, 14% said difficult, and 11% did not know or have not tried.

The table that follows details results for API infrequent voters by language.  In total, 61 API infrequent voters whose first and primary language is not English were surveyed.  35 API infrequent voters whose first and primary language is English were surveyed.

Voting Process:  API Infrequent Voters By Language

API

First & Primary Language: English

API

First & Primary Language: NOT English

Very Easy

Somewhat Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Very Easy

Somewhat Easy

Difficult

Don’t Know / Haven’t Done

Reading and understanding the voter information pamphlet

40

34

20

6

36

36

22

6

Getting the information necessary to make your voting decision

49

26

20

5

34

38

21

7

Getting voter materials in your preferred language

86

9

0

5

61

18

10

11

Voting by absentee ballot

23

14

3

60

30

13

12

45

Voting at your polling place

74

11

9

6

57

21

10

12

Finding your polling place

77

11

6

6

66

20

10

4

Registering to vote

80

20

0

0

66

23

10

0

 

Voting Attitudes and Experiences

API nonvoters have slightly more positive attitudes toward voting than other nonvoters, and API infrequent voters’ attitudes are similar to other infrequent voters. Both API groups are more likely to say that voting is an important part of being a good citizen; that voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and community; and that voting lets you choose who represents you in government.

However, Asian Pacific Islanders have less interest in politics than all voters. Both API groups are less immersed in a pro-voting culture than other respondents. Asian Pacific Islander nonvoters were less likely to say that they are interested in politics. Both groups were less like to say that their family votes in most elections; that their friends vote in most elections; or that their families discussed political issues and candidates growing up. API nonvoters were more likely to say that their friends hardly ever talk about politics.

Among Asian Pacific Islanders, as with all respondents, positive attitudes toward voting are more common among infrequent voters, while cynicism toward voting is more common among nonvoters.

Overall, API respondents feel positively about voting. They see staying informed as important (96% infrequent voters and 87% of nonvoters agree), recognize their civic duty to vote (96% infrequent voters and 83% of nonvoters agree), and see the opportunity to voice their opinions through voting (95% and 86%). API respondents believe that voting lets you choose who represents you in government (91% and 82%), believe that their vote makes a difference in the outcome of the election (85% and 75%), and believe that their votes are counted accurately (87% and 77%). API nonvoters have more positive attitudes than all nonvoters.

API infrequent voters and nonvoters are divided in how much they like voting. 92% of API infrequent voters like voting, but only 58% of API nonvoters do. API nonvoters are more likely to say that they like to vote than nonvoters generally (58% of API nonvoters compared to 48% of all nonvoters).

There is less presence of a pro-voting culture in both API groups compared to all nonvoters and infrequent voters, and evidence of pro-voting culture is visibly different between API nonvoters and API infrequent voters. Despite the overall difference in pro-voting culture, API infrequent voters and API nonvoters follow politics similarly, and this is in contrast to all infrequent voters and nonvoters. 77% of API infrequent voters and 68% of API nonvoters follow politics compared to 82% of all infrequent voters and 62% of nonvoters. Other evidence of pro-voting culture shows a divide between API nonvoters and API infrequent voters. 73% of infrequent voters’ families vote in most or all elections compared to only 39% of nonvoters’ families. Growing up, 54% of infrequent voters’ families and only 42% of nonvoters’ families often discussed politics.

Both API groups’ friends are not politically engaged. The majority of Asian Pacific Islander nonvoters and infrequent voters say that their friends hardly ever talk about politics (67% of nonvoters and 59% of infrequent voters). Only 58% of infrequent voters and 30% of nonvoters’ friends vote in most elections.

There is also cynicism evidenced among some Asian Pacific Islanders. Both API groups equally agree that there is no one on the ballot that they want to vote for (39% of infrequent voters and 38% of nonvoters). 24% of infrequent voters and 36% of nonvoters say that they make more of a statement by not voting than by voting.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

 

Voting Experiences and Attitudes

API Infrequent Voters

API Nonvoters

Agree

Disagree

Agree

Disagree

It is important to stay informed about political issues

87

5

87

12

Voting is an important part of being a good citizen

93

6

83

13

Voting is an important way to voice your opinions on issues that affect your family and your community

95

4

86

10

Poll workers are generally polite and helpful

87

5

63

10

I like to vote

90

8

58

30

I believe that when I vote, my vote will be counted accurately

87

10

77

19

Voting lets you choose who represents you in government

90

9

82

12

I believe that my vote makes a difference in the outcome of the election

85

12

75

20

My family votes in most or all elections

73

24

50

42

I am interested in politics and follow it in the news when I have the chance

77

18

68

28

My friends vote in most or all elections

48

17

41

42

Growing up, my family often discussed political issues and candidates

53

46

42

51

My friends hardly ever talk about politics

59

36

67

24

There is no one on the ballot that I want to vote for

39

49

39

45

I make more of a statement by not voting than I would if I voted

24

72

36

54

 

Most Important Reason to Vote

Making your voice heard is the most important reason to vote for API nonvoters (34%) and infrequent voters (32%). This is in contrast to all infrequent voters, 43 percent who say this is the most important reason to vote. Supporting a particular candidate is also named by a significant proportion of both groups. 12% of API nonvoters and API infrequent voters think that voting is part of their civic duty.

Most Important Reason to Vote

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

Make your voice heard / express your opinion

43

32

32

34

To support a particular candidate

24

30

19

24

Civic duty

9

12

9

12

To support a particular ballot issue

6

5

5

*

Something on ballot affects my family

3

5

2

*

Can’t complain unless you vote

5

5

10

6

To oppose a particular candidate

2

*

3

6

Pressure from family & friends

1

1

1

2

Something on ballot affects pocketbook

1

3

2

1

People struggled for the right to vote

3

2

4

1

To oppose a particular ballot issue

*

1

1

3

As long as people don’t vote, government will be controlled by corporations/special interests

*

1

1

1

*Less than one percent

Reasons People Don’t Vote

The top reason that API respondents do not vote in every election is that they feel that politics are controlled by special interests. 75% of infrequent voters and 64% of nonvoters say that this is a reason they do not vote.

API nonvoters and infrequent voters frequently cite information as a barrier to voting. Asian Pacific Islanders are much more likely than other infrequent voters and nonvoters to say that it is too hard to sift through all the information available to make good decisions on how to vote (56% and 58% respectively). The issues being too confusing is a reason for not voting for over half of API nonvoters and infrequent voters. One-third of API infrequent voters and 44% of API nonvoters say that it is too hard to get the information necessary to make their voting decision, and 31% of infrequent voters and 35% of nonvoters do not trust the information that is available. One quarter of infrequent voters and 27% of nonvoters say that they do not have access to information in their own language. Among those who took the survey in Cantonese, 31% of nonvoters and 37% of infrequent voters agreed that language is a barrier to voting.

Candidates not speaking to respondents was another frequently agreed-with reason for not voting (58% of nonvoters and 55% of infrequent voters). Corresponding to that, 35% of infrequent voters and 55% of nonvoters say they are not interested in politics. Being busy was also a major reason, with 55% of nonvoters and 35% of infrequent voters agreeing that being busy prevents them from voting in every election.

Asian Pacific Islander nonvoters are more likely to think that their vote makes a difference when compared to other nonvoters. 27% of API nonvoters feel that their vote does not make a difference compared to 39% of all nonvoters. API nonvoters and API infrequent voters have a similar opinion about making a difference, with 24% of infrequent voters agreeing that their vote does not make a difference compared to 27% of nonvoters. API nonvoters were much more likely to believe that their vote would be counted accurately than all nonvoters. 27% of API nonvoters do not believe their vote will be counted accurately compared to 38% of all nonvoters.

Asian Pacific Islanders have somewhat less positive attitudes about the voting experience itself. Asian Pacific Islanders are slightly less comfortable finding their polling place, find voting equipment more difficult to use, are more likely to find voting an isolating and lonely experience, and are also slightly more likely to find poll workers unfriendly or unhelpful. 25% of API nonvoters and 18% of API infrequent voters say that it is too hard to figure out where too vote. 13% of infrequent voters and 14% nonvoters say that voting equipment is difficult to use. 11% of infrequent voters and 13% of nonvoters find voting an isolating and lonely experience. 10% of infrequent voters and 17% of nonvoters are not comfortable in their polling place. Finally, many API infrequent voters and nonvoters feel that there are too many things on the ballot (46% of infrequent and 56% of nonvoters).

Reasons People Don’t Vote (% Agree)

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

Politics are controlled by special interests

66

75

69

74

It is too hard to sift through all the information available to make good decisions on how to vote

45

56

52

58

I don’t feel that candidates really speak to me

49

55

55

58

The issues are too confusing

42

51

48

51

There are just too many things on the ballot

37

46

44

56

I am too busy with work or my family

43

35

46

55

I am just not interested in politics

29

35

45

55

It is too hard to get the information necessary to make my voting decision

25

33

34

44

I don’t trust any of the election information available

24

31

36

35

The results of elections just don’t have any effect on me personally

19

27

29

29

I don’t have access to election information in my preferred language

10

25

12

27

My vote doesn’t make a difference

20

24

39

27

I don’t believe that my vote will actually be counted accurately

22

20

38

29

It’s too hard to figure out where to vote

11

18

18

25

The voting equipment is difficult to use

9

13

13

14

Voting is an isolating and lonely experience

8

11

13

13

I’m not comfortable in my polling place

7

10

12

17

The poll workers are unfriendly or unhelpful

6

8

11

9

I do not feel that the United States is my home

6

9

9

7

 

The Time Barrier

Asian Pacific Islanders who agreed that being busy was a reason for not voting were asked what their specific time barrier was. API respondents were similar to others in naming long job hours as the main component of the time barrier. 32% of API nonvoters and 42% of API infrequent voters named long job hours. Voting itself taking too much time was the second most named time barrier, with 24% of infrequent voters and 20% of nonvoters. Similar to earlier findings about information as a barrier to voting, 16% of infrequent API voters say that the time it takes to find information is a barrier to voting. Lack of childcare was also named by nonvoters.

Click to enlarge

 

The Information Problem

According to API respondents, the greatest problem with election information is that it is hard to understand. 47% of API infrequent voters and 36% of API nonvoters agree that it is difficult to understand information. Almost a third of infrequent voters and 37% of nonvoters think that information is untrustworthy. 15% and 14% of infrequent and nonvoters find information to be unavailable.

Click to enlarge

 

Registering to Vote

API nonvoters were asked to respond to a series of questions about their history of registering to vote. 31% do not know where to find registration forms. Almost one-third thought that they were registered through the DMV. 26% don’t want to register because they want to make sure that their information remains private, and 20% say that they don’t want to register because they don’t want to get called for jury duty.

25% say they have been registered at some point before and 27% say they have filled out a voter registration form. Asian Pacific Islanders were just as likely as other nonvoters to say it is difficult to stay registered because they move around so much (23%).

Registering to Vote (Nonvoters)

 

API

All

I know where to find voter registration forms

69

68

I thought I was registered through the DMV

31

18

I have filled out a voter registration form

27

30

I don’t want to register because I want my information to be private

26

23

I have been registered before, but not at my current address

25

44

I move around so frequently that it is difficult to stay registered

23

24

I don’t want to register because I don’t want to get called for jury duty

20

24

I don’t want to register because it could cause trouble for my family

6

6

 

Issues that Motivate People to Vote

For Asian Pacific Islander infrequent voters, the issue that is most likely to motivate them to vote is the economy (31% of infrequent voters). The economy is also a strong motivating factor for nonvoters, with 20% saying that it is an issue that would motivate them to vote. The economy is much less likely to motivate all infrequent voters and nonvoters to vote.

Like all respondents, Asian Pacific Islanders are motivated to vote by the issue of education and schools. Also motivating for Asian Pacific Islanders are health care and taxes. Other issues, including the war on Iraq, government leadership, the budget, and immigration, are less motivating for Asian Pacific Islanders. 11% of API infrequent voters and 15% of API nonvoters say that nothing would motivate them to vote.

Issues That Motivate People To Vote

Infrequent
Voters

Nonvoters

All

API

All

API

The Economy

17

31

11

20

Education/Schools

20

18

17

24

Health Care

12

13

7

9

Taxes

9

11

6

2

War on Iraq

10

6

7

7

War on Terrorism/National Security

6

5

5

3

Government/Leadership

12

4

13

8

The Budget

5

4

2

2

The Environment

4

4

2

3

Cost of Living

3

4

4

6

Housing

1

3

1

1

Immigration

4

1

3

3

Transportation, Roads and Freeways

1

1

1

1

Crime and Public Safety

3

*

3

8

Growth, Development and Land Usage

1

*

1

*

Nothing would motivate me to vote

8

11

17

15

*Less than one percent

Election Day Holiday

An Election Day holiday is more likely to increase the chance that Asian Pacific Islanders would vote than for other groups. 26% of API nonvoters and 23% of infrequent voters are more likely to vote if Election Day were a holiday. Close to 60% of all Asian Pacific Islanders say that an Election Day holiday would not make any difference in how likely they are to vote.

Election Day Holiday

 

Infrequent
Voters

Nonvoters

 

All

API

All

API

More likely to vote

20

23

16

26

No difference

64

62

70

59

Less likely to vote

15

14

12

12

 

Election Information Sources

Respondents were asked about the influence that various sources of election information have on their voting decisions. Among API infrequent voters, network TV news in English was the most important source of information. 30% say it is very influential and 44% say it is moderately influential. Talk radio was the second most influential, with 26% saying it is very influential and 31% saying it is moderately influential. Conversations with family are next, with 25% saying they are very influential and 36% saying that they are moderately influential. In order of influence, next were cable TV news, the Internet, local newspapers in English, conversations with friends, local radio news, alternative media, media in a language other than English, TV ads from political campaigns, endorsements from community groups, and endorsements from public figures. Less influential were mail from a political campaign, door-knocking campaign volunteers, radio campaign ads, and campaign phone calls.

Election Information Sources (API Infrequent Voters)

Very Influential

Moderately Influential

Slightly Influential

Not At All Influential

Network TV news in English

30

44

18

6

Talk radio

26

31

21

21

Cable TV news in English

25

37

24

13

Conversations with family

25

36

19

18

Internet

24

25

17

30

Local newspaper in English

23

43

22

10

Conversations with friends

23

41

22

13

Local radio news

18

50

17

13

Alternative media

17

31

27

17

Media in a language other than English

16

20

14

48

TV ads from a political campaign

14

33

27

26

Endorsements from community groups

13

34

26

25

Endorsements from public figures

12

27

34

26

Mail from a political campaign

9

27

32

32

Volunteer at your door from a political campaign

8

20

18

49

Radio ads from a political campaign

7

32

27

34

Phone call from a political campaign

7

12

29

51

 

Current Events Information Sources

The Internet is the most commonly cited source of current events information for API infrequent voters. API infrequent voters are twice as likely as other infrequent voters to use the Internet as a source of current events information, with 28% of API infrequent voters citing the Internet compared to 14% of all infrequent voters.  API nonvoters are also more likely to cite the Internet than all nonvoters, (18% compared to 11%, respectively).  

API infrequent voters are less likely than all infrequent voters to cite the newspaper as an information source, with 13% of API infrequent voters citing newspapers compared to 21% of all infrequent voters.  This gap is not as acute when considering API nonvoters compared to all nonvoters:  17% of API nonvoters say they use the newspaper as an information source, as do 18% of all nonvoters.  It should also be noted that cable TV is the most commonly cited source of information for API nonvoters. 

For infrequent voters, API subgroups are divided in the information sources they are likely to use. Education is a dividing factor, with college graduates more likely to get their information from the Internet (35%), the newspaper (19%) and TV (39%). Those without a college degree are more likely to get it from TV (51%).

Current Events Information Sources

 

Infrequent
 Voters

Nonvoters

 

All

API

All

API

Internet

14

28

11

18

Network TV

24

24

27

22

Cable TV

23

23

29

35

Newspaper

21

13

18

17

Radio

9

6

4

1

Conversations with friends & family

6

4

6

6

Alternative media

2

*

2

*

*less than one percent

 

Contents:

Site Map | Privacy Policy | About Calvoter.org

This page was first published on April 7, 2005 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
Copyright California Voter Foundation, All Rights Reserved.