New research spotlights growth and diversity of state’s Asian-American population; untapped voting potential

DURHAM (March 10, 2016) — Amid the demographic shifts transforming North Carolina and its electorate, one has been widely overlooked — the rise of Asian Americans.

The Asian-American population in North Carolina, though relatively small, has become the fastest-growing racial and ethnic demographic in the state, according to new research released by several Asian-American and civic engagement-focused groups.

The “Asian Americans in North Carolina” brief notes that between 2000 and 2010, the Asian-American population in the state grew 85 percent, the third-fastest rate in the country. Since 2010, Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group within the state.

“The growth of North Carolina’s Asian-American population has often gone under the radar, but these numbers demonstrate that this community is an important part of the increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the state,” said Allie Yee, a researcher at the Institute for Southern Studies based in Durham, N.C., and an author of the report.

Among the key characteristics of the Asian-American population in North Carolina:

  • Diversity: Over 20 ethnicities, countries of origin and languages are represented in the state’s Asian-American community.
  • Relatively high citizenship rates: Although nearly 60 percent of Asian-American residents were born abroad, the citizenship rate is about 70 percent. Rates vary by ethnicity and country of origin.
  • Low voter registration rates: About 100,000 Asian Americans are registered to vote, reflecting only 58 percent of eligible Asian-American voters. By comparison, 70 percent of all eligible voters in the state are registered.

As North Carolina prepares for its March 15 presidential primary, voting among Asian Americans is a major focus of advocates for the community.

“As the Asian-American population in North Carolina grows, we must ensure that everyone has a voice in our political process,” said Cat Bao Le, executive director of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC).

SEAC is among the groups releasing the report, and it is coordinating with NC’s Asian Americans Together to run nonpartisan get-out-the-vote phone banking events in Charlotte and Raleigh to encourage Asian-American voters to cast their ballot in next Tuesday’s primary.

The Charlotte phone bank will be held at SEAC’s headquarters at 4938 Central Avenue in Charlotte from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, March 12. Members of the press are invited to attend and cover the event.

The “Asian Americans in North Carolina” report was developed and released jointly by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Institute for Southern Studies, the N.C. Justice Center and the Southeast Asian Coalition.

The groups are planning to release a more in-depth report on Asian Americans in North Carolina later this year in advance of the November general elections. For more information and to read the full report, visit

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Durham, N.C. contact: Allie Yee,, 919-419-8311, ext. 5; Charlotte, N.C. contact: Cat Bao Le,, 704-941-2557