2016  Asian  and  Pacific  Islander  Voter  Participation  
Written  and  compiled  by  Bill  Baugh,  Win/Win  

 
Voting  participation  among  the  Asian  and  Pacific  Islander  community  in  Washington  State  reached  an  
all-­‐time  high  in  2016.    While  many  obstacles  exist  that  prohibit  equitable  voting  participation,  especially  
in  Asian  and  Pacific  Islander  (API)  communities,  2016  marked  a  record  high  in  voter  registration  and  vote  
share  for  the  API  community  in  Washington.  These  trends  are  very  encouraging  and  show  signs  that  the  
voter  participation  gap  in  the  API  community  is  decreasing.    

The  four  major  data  points  we  rely  on  to  track  disparities  in  API  political  participation  include:  Citizen  
Voting  Age  Population  (CVAP),  voter  registration  percentage,  voter  turnout,  and  vote  share.    

Citizen  Voting  Age  Population:  CVAP  is  data  that  is  collected  by  the  American  Community  Survey  and  
gives  the  best  estimates  of  the  number  of  eligible  API  voters.  Currently,  APIs  make  up  6.5%  of  all  eligible  
voters  in  Washington1.  

Voter  Registration  Percentage:  Voter  registration  percentage  is  the  percentage  of  API  voters  among  all  
registered  voters  for  any  given  year.  In  2016,  APIs  made  up  4.9%  of  all  registered  voters  in  Washington.  

Voter  Turnout:  The  percentage  of  registered  voters  that  voted  in  a  particular  election.  In  2016,  67%  of  all  
registered  APIs  voted  in  the  general  election.  

Vote  share:  Different  from  voter  turnout,  vote  share  refers  to  the  percentage  of  ballots  cast  for  any  
given  election.  In  2016,  APIs  made  up  4.2%  of  all  ballots  cast  in  the  general  election.  

Looking  at  these  four  interrelated  data  points  over  time  can  help  us  better  understand  how  the  API  
community  is  participating  in  the  political  process  and  help  identify  key  trends.  Asian  and  Pacific  
Islanders  account  for  6.5%  of  the  eligible  voter  population  in  Washington  State,  a  rate  that  steadily  
increases  by  approximately  .1%  every  year.  In  theory,  if  no  disparities  exist,  CVAP,  voter  registration  and  
vote  share  would  all  be  the  same  number.  Since  APIs  account  for  6.5%  of  all  eligible  voters,  they  should  
also  account  for  6.5%  of  all  registered  voters  and  6.5%  of  all  ballots  cast  in  every  election.  Unfortunately,  
barriers  do  exist  and  APIs  only  account  for  4.9%  of  all  registered  voters  and  4.2%  of  ballots  cast  in  the  
2016  general  election.  

Increasing  participation  -­‐  and  therefore  reducing  disparities  -­‐  of  underrepresented  communities  is  a  
priority  of  the  Win/Win  Network  partners  and  a  key  tenant  in  our  theory  of  change.  A  focus  on  voter  
registration  and  voter  mobilization  among  Asian  and  Pacific  Islander  communities  could  provide  key  
opportunities  in  reducing  these  disparities  over  the  long-­‐term.    

The  chart  below  looks  at  these  trends  over  the  past  seven  years.2  Although  CVAP  and  voter  registration  
has  steadily  gained  over  the  years,  vote  share  fluctuates  depending  on  the  election  year,  with  fewer  

                                                                                                                       
1
 The  most  recent  CVAP  data  available  is  for  2015.  The  2016  was  estimated  based  on  previous  trends.  
2
 Reliable  voter  data  is  not  available  prior  to  2010.  

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disparities  in  high-­‐saliency  elections  and  larger  disparities  in  low-­‐saliency  elections,  a  trend  that  is  
consistent  among  all  underrepresented  communities.  As  shown  in  the  chart  below,  there  was  a  
significant  spike  in  both  voter  registration  and  vote  share  in  2016.  

 

Historic  API  Voter  Par^cipa^on  
7.0%  
6.5%  
6.3%   6.4%  
6.1%   6.2%  
5.9%   5.9%  
6.0%  

5.0%   4.9%  
4.7%   4.6%  
4.2%   4.4%  
3.9%   4.0%  
4.0%   4.2%  
3.6%  
3.0%  
2.9%   2.9%  
2.7%   2.8%  
2.0%   2.4%  

1.0%  

0.0%  
2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016  

Eligible  Voters   Registered  Voters   Vote  Share  
 
 

 

Voter  Registration  
2016  marked  an  all-­‐time  high  for  API  voter  registration.  Asian  and  Pacific  Islanders  now  account  for  
4.9%  of  all  registered  voters  in  Washington,  the  highest  rate  it  has  ever  been.  In  addition,  APIs  
accounted  for  8.1%  of  all  new  voter  registrations  in  2016,  another  record  high.  Even  though  these  rates  
are  very  encouraging  and  provide  testimony  to  the  importance  of  voter  registration  efforts,  there  are  
still  approximately  97,000  eligible  APIs  voters  that  are  not  registered  to  vote.    

The  chart  below  shows  how  the  overall  voter  registration  rate  compares  to  that  of  new  voter  
registrations  for  each  given  year.  Prior  to  2016,  APIs  averaged  approximately  6.3%  of  all  new  voter  
registrations  in  any  given  year,  reaching  its  peak  in  2012  at  7.2%.  This  rate  spiked  in  2016  to  8.1%,  
showing  a  large  increase  in  the  rate  that  APIs  registered  to  vote  in  2016.    

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API  Percentage  of  New  Voter  Registra^ons  
9%  

8.1%  
8%  
7.2%  
7%   6.8%  
6.5%  
6.1%  
6%   5.7%   5.6%  

5%  

4%  

3%  

2%  

1%  

0%  
2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016  
 

 
2016  New  Voter  Registrations   New  Voter  Registration  Counts  
%  of  Eligible   %  of  New   Total   API  Voter  
    Voters   Registrations   Year   %  API  
Registrations   Registrations  
API   6.4%   8.1%   2010   180,752   10,267   5.7%  
Black   3.4%   3.6%   2011   133,872   7,549   5.6%  
Latino   6.4%   9.7%   2012   274,949   19,689   7.2%  
White   79.5%   76.4%   2013   120,591   8,158   6.8%  
  2014   137,758   8,466   6.1%  
  2015   155,708   10,069   6.5%  
2016   307,137   24,954   8.1%  
 

 
 
 

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Vote  Share  and  Voter  Turnout  
Turnout  among  the  API  community  is  lower  when  compared  to  the  statewide  average,  which  is  
consistent  across  all  other  historically  underrepresented  communities  in  Washington.  In  addition,  even  
though  the  API  vote  share  of  4.9%  in  2016  was  a  record  high,  turnout  among  the  API  community  
dropped  from  69%  in  2012,  to  67%  in  2016.  This  2%  drop  doesn’t  represent  an  abnormality  when  this  
turnout  is  comparable  to  the  state  average  and  a  drop  among  other  communities.  Considering  that  API  
vote  share  and  voter  registration  reached  its  highest  point  in  2016,  the  fact  that  voter  turnout  remained  
fairly  consistent  suggests  that  voter  mobilization  efforts  were  less  responsible  for  reducing  the  API  voter  
participation  disparities  and  it  was  more  likely  due  to  the  increase  in  voter  registrations.  

Historic  API  Turnout  
90%  
81%  
80%   79%  

71%  
70%  
69%   67%  
60%  
53%   54%  
56%  
50%   45%  

40%  
38%  
35%   35%  
30%  
28%  
20%   24%  

10%  

0%  
2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016  

Statewide   API  
 
 
Election  Results:  
Without  exit  polls  available  in  Washington  State,  we  look  to  other  interesting  data  points  and  precinct-­‐
level  trends  to  extrapolate  relevant  election  information.  By  looking  at  precinct-­‐level  data,  we  can  
isolate  those  that  have  large  percentages  of  API  voters  and  see  how  these  precincts  vote  and/or  roll  off  
(i.e.  don’t  vote  the  full  ballot)  on  any  given  race.  Though  we  won’t  be  able  to  attribute  these  trends  

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directly  to  API  voters,  it  does  provide  anecdotal  information  as  to  how  people  in  the  API  community  
voted.  

The  results  below  show  interesting  trends  regarding  API  voting  behavior.  Precincts  with  at  least  20%  API  
voters  tend  to  be  very  Democratic  and  support  progressive  initiatives.  The  higher  the  API  percentage,  
the  larger  the  precincts  tended  to  support  these  Democratic  candidates.    

Another  interesting  data  point  to  look  at  is  to  compare  Hillary  Clinton’s  performance  with  that  of  Jay  
Inslee’s.  Across  all  of  Washington,  Hillary  Clinton  and  Jay  Inslee  received  nearly  the  same  support,  with  
Clinton  receiving  54.30%  compared  to  Inslee’s  54.39%.  Even  though  the  support  was  nearly  identical,  
API  precincts  supported  Clinton  at  a  sizeable  rate  over  Jay  Inslee.  This  suggests  that,  even  though  the  API  
precincts  are  largely  Democratic,  they  tended  to  be  more  in  support  of  Hillary  Clinton  (or,  more  anti-­‐
Trump)  when  compared  to  the  rest  of  the  state.  

One  final  data  point  to  look  at  is  roll  off.  Roll  off  refers  to  the  percentage  of  people  who  cast  a  ballot  in  
the  election,  but  failed  to  vote  on  a  particular  race.  With  exception  to  the  Presidential  race,  precincts  
with  larger  number  of  API  voters  tend  to  roll  off  at  higher  rate,  suggesting  that  API  voters  are  more  
prone  to  fill  out  a  partial  ballot.      

#  of   Hillary  Clinton   Patty  Murray   Jay  Inslee   Sound  Transit  3  
API  %   Precinct
s   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off  
Over  50%   20   84.9%   2.8%   88.1%   5.3%   84.1%   5.7%   61.9%   7.1%  
40  -­‐  50%   19   76.9%   4.0%   76.9%   4.2%   71.9%   4.9%   57.5%   6.7%  
30  -­‐  40%   75   74.2%   3.9%   75.1%   4.2%   70.8%   4.6%   55.3%   7.2%  
20  -­‐  30%   199   69.4%   4.4%   70.3%   4.3%   65.3%   4.6%   52.3%   7.5%  
 

#  of   Initiative  1433   Initiative  1464   Initiative  1491   Initiative  1501  
API  %   Precinct
s   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off  
Over  50%   20   85.1%   8.2%   64.2%   14.7%   89.0%   6.8%   74.1%   8.5%  
40  -­‐  50%   19   71.9%   6.8%   54.3%   12.8%   84.7%   5.8%   71.3%   7.1%  
30  -­‐  40%   75   72.2%   6.3%   54.9%   11.8%   83.2%   5.3%   71.4%   6.7%  
20  -­‐  30%   199   68.0%   5.9%   50.7%   11.4%   80.2%   5.0%   72.6%   6.4%  
 

#  of   Initiative  732   Initiative  732  
API  %  
Precincts   Support   Roll  Off   Support   Roll  Off  
Over  50%   20   62.1%   12.2%   81.2%   12.9%  
40  -­‐  50%   19   54.6%   10.5%   71.3%   11.9%  
30  -­‐  40%   75   53.0%   10.0%   71.8%   11.0%  
20  -­‐  30%   199   49.9%   9.7%   68.3%   10.6%  
 

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