Seattle Votes

We worked with Latino Decisions to develop and launch the Seattle Votes Survey campaign, which anonymously collected civic engagement data from 5,566 immigrant and refugee residents, the first such data for any city in the U.S. and one of the largest data sets in the country. The reports and links to data are below:

Report on the entire dataset:
Seattle Votes Survey Results: Immigrant Civic Engagement in Seattle-King County

Reports disaggregated by immigrant/refugee community subsets:
Seattle Votes Survey Results: Asian American Community

Seattle Votes Survey Results: East African Community

Seattle Votes Survey Results: Latino Community 
NOTE: As of June 4, 2018, the Latino Community report is revised from the original version. Tania Hino's interview contained incorrect information in the original report.

Seattle Votes Survey raw data:

Seattle Votes Slideshow Presentation:
OIRA Presentation Seattle Votes 2018 FINAL.pdf

To learn more about the Seattle Votes Survey campaign, click below to jump to each section:

Seattle Votes Survey Project FAQ

Seattle Votes Partner Organizations

Immigrant Voting Task Force


Seattle Votes Survey Campaign

Immigrants and refugees in Olympia advocating.

The Seattle Votes Survey campaign was a community outreach and engagement campaign to identify and better document the barriers to civic engagement for Seattle's immigrant and refugee residents. By partnering with hundreds of organizations, thousands of Seattle-King County immigrants and refugees shared with us their habits related to voting and civic engagement. The findings are informing policies to improve naturalization rates, voter registration numbers, and voting rates.


1. Why did we do a survey?

Better information will result in better policies. In 2015, the Immigrant Voting Rights Task Force released a report with recommendations for city and regional governments. Both must adopt policies to improve the naturalization, registration, and voting rates of immigrant and refugee residents. One of the recommendations was the need for better data about immigrant and refugee voters. The Task Force was comprised of immigrant and refugee leaders appointed by Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Mike McGinn. The Immigrant Voting Rights Task Force report is available below.

2. What was the Seattle Votes Survey?

The Seattle Votes Survey was a research tool to help us understand barriers to civic engagement (naturalization, voter registration, and voting) for immigrant and refugee residents. We took great steps to ensure that survey responses could not be traced back to an individual. It took an average of 10 minutes to complete the survey.

The survey was available in English, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Vietnamese, Korean, Somali, Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Arabic. Thanks to community support, we were also able to generate additional paper surveys in Filipino/Tagalog, Indonesian, and Khmer/Cambodian.

A color version of the Seattle Votes Survey

The print-versions of the surveys were for downloading, printing, and filling out with a pen/pencil. (Right-click, then select, "Save link as..." and save to your computer.)
PLEASE NOTE: the surveys below print on legal sized paper (8.5" x 14").


Filling out a ballot in Chinese.

3. Who was the intended audience of the survey?

The survey was intended for voting-age immigrant and refugee residents of Seattle-King County. Survey-takers must have been born outside of the United States AND be at least 18 years of age. If individuals were born in the United States OR were younger than 18 years of age, they should not have filled out the survey.

4. What data is helpful to improve immigrant and refugee resident civic engagement rates?

We lacked quality data on numerous issues. We wanted to know the following:

  • Language needs of eligible voters.
  • Literacy levels of eligible limited English-proficient voters.
  • Number of eligible limited English-proficient voters.
  • Turnout of limited English-proficient voters.
  • The use of ballot drop boxes in past and current locations.

5. Why did organizations support Seattle Votes?

Immigrant and refugee residents are a growing and increasingly influential population. But, our civic engagement rates lag behind other groups. As a result, we are not part of decisions that affect our livelihood and our families. With so much at stake in every election - jobs, education, immigration reform, and more - it's important for immigrant and refugee residents to become citizens, register to vote, and vote.

Also, the lack of immigrant and refugee voter data makes it difficult for city and elections leaders to understand what is needed to serve all Seattle residents. As members and supporters of immigrant and refugee communities, we have an opportunity to collect this data ourselves.

A resident getting ready to register to vote.

6. What did partner organizations and individuals do to help Seattle Votes?

Organizations and individuals helped to distribute the surveys to community members and constituents. You can learn more at the Seattle Votes Partner Toolkit here.

7. Was funding available for organizations to do outreach?

We had a very limited budget for Seattle Votes and were unable to sponsor or compensate organizations to participate in Seattle Votes. This project was built on our simple mission: to improve the lives of Seattle's immigrant and refugee residents.

7. What partner organizations and media partners helped with the Seattle Votes campaign?

Seattle Votes Partner Organizations

21 Progress
ACLU of Washington
Administration of Children and Families
Al Karim Islamic Center
API Chaya
Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)
BAYAN Pacific Northwest
Casa Latina
Catholic Community Services of Western Washington
Caya Dargado Oromo Seattle
Change Counts! - Financial Empowerment Network│Seattle-King County
Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC)
Chinese Meet Seattle
City of Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission
Coalition of Immigrants Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC)
Communities in Schools
Consular Association of Washington
Downtown Muslim Association of Seattle
Downtown Public Health Center
East African Community Services
Eco8 Community Builders
El Centro de la Raza
Entre Hermanos
Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle
Ethiopian Community Center
Ethnic Heritage Council
FACES (Filipino Americans Civic Employees of Seattle)
Faith Action Network
Families of Color Seattle
Filipino American Greater Seattle Seventh-day Adventist Church
Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS)
Goodwill Bellevue
Goodwill Burien
Goodwill Seattle
Goodwill Shoreline
Healthy King County Coalition
Highline Community College
HOLA (Hispanic or Latino Affinity)
Horn of Africa Services
India Association of Western Washington
International Community Health Services (ICHS)
International Drop-In Center (IDIC)
Iraqi Community Center of Washington
Iterlm CDA
Japanese American Citizens League - Seattle Chapter
Japanese Cultural Community Center of Washington Seattle
Jewish Family Service of Seattle
Justice for Women, Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center
King County Housing Authority
King County Immigrant and Refugee Task Force
King County Library System
Korean American Bar Association of Washington

Korean American Coalition of Washington
Latino City Employees
Latino Community Development Fund
Literary Source
Low Income Housing Institute
Lutheran Community Services Northwest
Mexican Consulate in Seattle
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
Muslim Community Resource Center
Muslim Housing Services
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Seattle
NEA Center for Organizing
Neighborhood House
OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates
Office of Arts and Culture
Office of Intergovernmental Relations
Oromo Community of Seattle
Puget Sound Training Center
Rajana Society
Renton Technical College
Refugee Women's Alliance (ReWA)
Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Lake Union
Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Seattle Central College
Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda)
Seattle CityClub
Seattle Counseling Services Immigrant Outreach Project
Seattle Education Association
Seattle Housing Authority
Seattle Public Library Civic Engagement Committee
Seattle University College of Arts and Sciences Nonprofit Leadership Program
Seattle University International Student Center
SEIU 775
SEIU Local 6
Simposio de Mujeres Latinas
Somali Community Services of Seattle
Somali Health Board
St. James Immigrant Assistance
St. Pius X Catholic Church
The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
Tongan Wesleyan Church of America
TRAC Associates
Ukrainian Community Center of Washington
Unite Here! Local 8
University of Washington
Voices of Tomorrow
Washington Bus
Washington Chinese Arts & Culture Committee
White Center Community Development Association
Win/Win Network
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience


Seattle Votes Partner Media Outlets

Actitud Latina
Crossings TV
El Mundo
Immigration Matters
International Examiner
Korea Daily
La Raza Noroeste

Northwest Vietnamese News
Seattle Chinese Times
Seattle Viet Times
The Voice
Univision Seattle

For more information about Seattle Votes, contact Joaquin Uy at or (206) 684-0155.


Young Somali women at the state capitol.


2015 Immigrant Voting Task Force Report

The Immigrant Voting Task Force report was released in 2015. You can see the news release here.

This report looks at the issues that affect civic and political participation by immigrant communities in the City of Seattle. The City is working to ensure that immigrant residents are part of our vibrant democracy and is using innovative and community-driven ideas to overcome challenges to civic participation. This inclusive approach is highlighted in the creative and practical recommendations developed by the Immigrant Voting Task Force.

We hope the report will be a catalyst for civic engagement and increased voter participation within immigrant communities. This report may also spark ideas for other jurisdictions across America to break down barriers for their new immigrant voters as well.

Immigrant Voting Task Force Report



2015 Immigrant Voting Task Force

  1. Arsalan Bukhari (CAIR-Washington State)
  2. Diane Butler (AILA - American Immigration Lawyers Association)
  3. Laura Flores Cantrell (Latino Community Fund)
  4. Luis Fraga (Associate Vice Provost, UW)
  5. Dana Laurent
  6. Sharon Maeda (21 Progress)
  7. Hamdi Mohamed
  8. David Perez
  9. Tania Santiago (DACA/Dreamer)
  10. Rich Stolz (One America)
  11. Manny Uch
  12. Heather Villanueva (SEIU 775)
  13. Dorothy Wong (CISC)
  14. Trang Tu


Arsalan Bukhari - Arsalan Bukhari is Executive Director of CAIR-Washington State, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization. Motivated by the growing prejudice against Muslims, Arsalan started as a volunteer with CAIR-WA with a resolve to establish a center for professional Muslim activism in Washington State. Prior to joining CAIR, Bukhari was Contract Administrator at the Boeing Company and an activist in the fields of interfaith collaboration, and community outreach. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Finance from Seattle University.


Diane Butler - Diane Butler was raised on a farm in Wyoming and graduated with honors from the University of Wyoming in 1983. After working for a Congressman in Washington, DC, she spent time in Shanghai, China working for the Canadian law firm of Bull, Housser & Tupper. She went on to receive her law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1992 and now chairs the Immigration Law practice group at Lane Powell PC. Diane was named as a "leading individual" in Immigration Law by Chambers USA 2012: America's Leading Lawyers and a "Top Business Immigration Lawyer" in Seattle Business Monthly (2008).


Laura Flores Cantrell - Laura Flores Cantrell serves as the Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund of Washington, a statewide public charitable foundation. An attorney by training, she served as Assistant General Counsel for an energy development and marketing company in Bellevue, Washington prior to entering the nonprofit sector. Laura has worked in advocacy and public policy roles in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years. Her professional experience has focused on improving the well-being of underserved populations, including migrant and seasonal farmworkers, communities of color and at-risk children


Luis Fraga - Luis Ricardo Fraga is Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Russell F. Stark University Professor, Director of the Diversity Research Institute, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. He has the responsibility for developing strategies and policies with the Provost, Vice Provosts, Deans, and Department Chairs to recruit, promote, and retain faculty at the UW. He has been on the faculty at Stanford University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Oklahoma. He is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. He received his A.B., cum laude, from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University.


Dana Laurent - Dana has built power for social change all across the state in her current role as executive director of Win/Win. Win/Win is the strategic and organizing hub for over fifty different organizations in the social justice and labor community and is the backbone for collaborative civic engagement in Washington. Previously, Dana was the Political Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, where she led a tristate team and developed and implemented a wide variety of legislative, civic engagement and political strategies and campaigns on both the state and federal levels to advance women's health and rights.


Sharon Maeda - Sharon Maeda has been involved in electoral politics since she was 14 years old, campaigning for her neighbor who was in the Washington House of Representatives. Over the years, she has worked on many electoral campaigns and volunteered on numerous state, county and city commissions and advisory boards. She served in the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD and also worked at the White House. Sharon was the founding Executive Director of 21 Progress, a nonprofit committed to building a 21st Century movement for equity and justice.


Hamdi Mohamed - Hamdi Mohamed was born in the early 1990s in Mogadishu, Somalia and is the youngest of ten siblings. A year after Hamdi's birth her family fled Somalia due to a civil war that began in 1991. By the third grade, Hamdi and her family settled down in Seattle, Washington. Now, Hamdi Mohamed is a graduate of University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in Law, Societies, and Justice and minor in Near Eastern Studies and Civilization. In 2012, Hamdi did a summer internship for Care International in Somalia, researching and writing interest-stories on discrimination, harassment, and gender misconduct.


David Perez is a trial and appellate attorney at a law firm in Seattle. David has substantial experience briefing cases at all levels of state and federal government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and has argued successfully in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Washington Court of Appeals. Each year since 2013, David has been named a "Rising Star" in Washington Law and Politics. David maintains a robust pro bono practice that focuses on issues related to civil rights, constitutional law and voting rights.


Tania Santiago - Tania Santiago graduated from the University of Washington in spring of 2015 with a degree in Sociology and Education. She is 22-years-old and the oldest in her family of four. Currently, she is a paralegal at Karol Brown, Attorney at Law, PLLC in the city of Bellevue. After graduation she aspires to earn her Master's in Teaching and J.D. from the University of Washington. Her dream is to become the Seattle School District Superintendent. She is actively involved in her community and school as a Co-founder for the Washington State Dream Act Coalition and an Ambassador for the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (LEAP).


Rich Stolz - Rich Stolz is currently the Executive Director of OneAmerica. He was born in Seoul, South Korea. His parents met in Korea, when his father, an American citizen, worked there in the construction field. His mother became a naturalized citizen, and Rich's family moved to the United States when he was three. Throughout his life, he has been deeply influenced by the civil rights movement and liberation theology in the context of Catholic social teaching, including the centrality of faith, radical love, and human dignity. Together, these experiences affirmed his calling to social justice and human rights organizing and activism.


Many Uch - Many Uch is a Cambodian refugee and Seattle-based  activist.


Heather Villanueva - Heather Villanueva is the Community Strength Organizer at SEIU 775, the largest union in Washington. Villanueva focuses on advancing immigrant, refugee and LGBTQ rights, anti-poverty issues, racial equity and civic engagement. She currently coordinates the award-winning Racial Equity Team, a group of lobbyists working with legislators and community leaders towards racial justice in the Washington legislature. She also serves on the board of Ingersoll Gender Center, an organization serving the Puget Sound transgender community. Villanueva has served as the chair of the King County Civil Rights Commission and as a board member of the International Examiner.


Dorothy Wong - Dorothy Wong is presently the Executive Director of CISC (Chinese Information and Service Center). Dorothy hails from California, but is no stranger to Seattle. She served as a former Executive Director of the International Community Health Services from 1993 - 2005. Dorothy was also executive director of the Organization for Chinese Americans (OCA), Washington, DC in 2006. Her professional career has been with nonprofit organizations and government agencies that provide health care and social services.


Trang Tu is an independent consultant focusing on community and social justice work, with a background in community planning and development. Prior to consulting, Trang worked for a non-profit in the International District supporting neighborhood planning efforts, and for the City of Seattle, where she served as light rail station area planner in the Rainier Valley, and then as an Assistant for Housing and Community Development under former Mayor Paul Schell.


For information about past task force agendas and minutes please email,

Banner photo credit: Alabastro Photography.