(312) 767-8611

Who is Allowed to Vote in the U.S.?

Grey Ibrahim logo

Who is Allowed to Vote in the U.S.?

Under the U.S. Constitution, every U.S. citizen has the right to vote and participate in the democratic process. There are a few limited exceptions to this rule, but they are rare. Foreign born immigrants may also be allowed to act in their self-interests and exercise their right to vote, but not until they become U.S. citizens. So what does this mean for non-citizens? Let’s start with the basics:

Who is Eligible to Vote in the U.S.?

There are a few requirements you must meet in order to be eligible to vote in U.S. federal, state, and local elections. Those requirements include:

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Meet your state’s residency requirements

  • Be 18 years or older (on or before Election Day)

  • Be registered to vote in your state

There are some exceptions to these requirements. For example, North Dakota does not require voter registration. Also, some states allow non-citizens and individuals 16 or 17 years old to vote in local elections only. With that being said, let’s take a look into non-citizens and voting.

Non-citizens and Voting

Only U.S. citizens - born citizens, later acquired citizens, or naturalized citizens - are eligible to vote in any U.S. federal, state, and most local elections. Non-citizens, including permanent residents (Green Card holders) are not eligible to vote in any federal, state, nor local elections. In fact, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 made it a criminal offense to vote in a federal election. Non-citizens often face removal charges, have their immigration benefits denied or revoked, and unfortunately are sometimes permanently barred from being able to get certain immigration benefits.

How Can Non-citizens Protect Themselves?

Although rare, there can be mistaken scenarios where a non-citizen has been registered to vote or voted in a federal or state election. Of course, non-citizens are usually always informed that they are not eligible to vote, but some may not be aware of accidental scenarios that can put their naturalization at risk. If a non-citizen has been registered to vote, it might be because of an error made by someone at the state or local motor vehicles department. This can happen when the person doing the registering does not know the laws regarding voting, has not been correctly trained, and did not ask appropriate questions. There are instances where non-citizens go to the DMV to get their driver’s license (a right that they have) and the employees at the DMV offer them to register to vote. This accidental question can turn into a big problem if the non-citizens says “yes,” and the DMV employee registers them to vote, as it also means that the non-citizen is claiming to be a U.S. citizen-which they are not.Fortunately, USCIS recently updated its policy to ignore registering to vote at motor vehicle departments if the immigrant could prove that voter registry was no fault of their own.

It is important to be aware of certain rights that do not apply to non-citizens. By understanding that non-citizens do not have the right to vote in U.S. federal, state, and most local elections, one can avoid getting into trouble that puts their path towards citizenship at risk.

Contact Ibrahim Law Office should you find yourself in such situations and need help, or if you would like more information as to what rights apply to you as a non-citizen.

How Can We Help?

Contact Form Spanish and English

Our Services

More Immigration Blogs

Immigration Testimonials

Hear From Our

  • Five Star Rated Immigration Attorney Ibrahim Law

    "One of the top immigration lawyers in Chicagoland. Michael Ibrahim is attentive, supportive, and knowledgeable. One of his best abilities is his availability. He responds to emails with attention and detail, often on the same day. Don't underestimate that in dealing with any immigration matter. He is personable; he does not simply collect fees and treat you like a client but rather like a friend. Your success is his success, and he understands that. If Michael were a surgeon, accountant, or another lawyer in any other field. I would want him. You cannot replicate him.." -Yousef S.

  • Five Star Rated Immigration Attorney Ibrahim Law

    "My wife and I are very thankful for Micheal Ibrahim. Before we hired him, we approached many immigration lawyers over ten years to duplicate documents that were destroyed in a fire. The results were disappointing. Micheal was able to find the lost documents. My wife got her permanent residency. He was always available for us during a stressful time. We would like to thank Michael for his knowledge, professionalism, and expertise. We would definitely recommend Michael for immigration services." -Farzad D.

  • Five Star Rated Immigration Attorney Ibrahim Law

    "Michael took over my case, which had been in immigration proceedings for many years, and I am so glad that he did. He is very professional, kept my husband, and I informed of every step of the process, and gave us the most honest and beneficial advice! Highly recommended for anyone who is in need of a great immigration attorney! Thank you again, Michael!" -Nida F.

Contact Form Demo