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New Report Finds Immigrants Fuel Growth of Asian Voter Population

A new report by the Pew Research Center shows that 61 percent of eligible Asian voters in 2016 will have been born in another country.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 photo, pedestrians pass voting signs near an early voting polling site, in Austin, Texas.Eric Gay / AP

In 1986, 82 percent of the U.S. eligible voting population was white. By 2014, that number decreased to 69.9 percent. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center, elections are becoming increasingly diverse, with 2014 marking the most diverse midterm election yet.

According to Pew, Asians made up 4.2 percent of the U.S. eligible voting population 2014, up from 1.4 percent in 1990. The share of eligible voters also rose among Hispanic and black voters, from 5 percent to 11.4 percent and 11 percent to 12.1 percent, respectively.

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The coming of age of U.S. citizens is the primary factor for the growth of Asian voters, with 607,000 young people turning 18 between 2012 and 2016. Additionally, around 930,000 Asian immigrants will have become U.S. citizens between 2012 and 2016 — making immigrants the largest share of the Asian voting population, with 61 percent of eligible Asian voters born in another country.

The Pew report also showed that the Asian voting population has grown significantly between 2010 and 2014, with a 24.9 percent increase of eligible voters.

However, these numbers don’t translate directly to votes. Although there was a 22.6 percent increase in registered Asian voters between 2010 and 2014, less than 9 percent of Asians actually voted.

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The top reason cited across all racial and ethnic groups for not voting was “too busy, conflicting work or school schedule."

The second most popular reason — “not interested, felt my vote wouldn’t make a difference” — was cited by 13.4% of Asians. One reason, “didn’t like candidates or campaign issues,” was cited by 7.2 percent of overall respondents, but by only by 3.3 percent of registered Asian voters.

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