Asian Americans lobby on voting, civil rights at Georgia Capitol

Asian American lawmakers celebrate the passing of a resolution recognizing the Lunar New Year at the capitol on Jan. 31, 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Asian Americans are lobbying against some bills moving through the state legislature because they say the bills would disproportionately affect Asian communities.

Last week, advocates and community members went to the capitol for Asian American Advocacy Day to speak on bills about voting, buying land and getting driver licenses. 

Jennifer Lee, the policy director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, pointed out two bills that would likely restrict voting access to Asian Americans in Georgia — SB 367 would get rid of drop boxes for primary and general elections and SB 446 would shorten the early voting period for primary and general elections by five days.

“The metaphor is sort of like, if I’m having a dinner party, I like to have lots of different types of food at my dinner party because I want everyone to eat,” Lee said. “I think that we should have all different ways for people to be able to cast their ballots because we want everyone to vote.”

National surveys by the voting nonprofit Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote show about half of Asian American voters prefer to vote by mail.  

“A lot of what we found in our communities is connected to the fact that, especially older voters, their primary language is not English,” Lee said.

Filling out a ballot at home gives the voter more time to understand what’s on the ballot. 

Another concern is a pair of bills that would bar “foreign adversaries,” including Chinese people from buying certain agricultural land. Bills similar to this have passed in different states around the country.