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Six Facts About the Myth of Non-Citizen Voting

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Far too many politicians, pundits, and online commentators are peddling bigoted conspiracies about non-citizens voting in our elections. This issue has been deeply researched, and even the most vocal proponents of the myth have failed to turn up any significant evidence of a problem.

Non-citizens cannot vote in federal or state elections, and strict penalties for violating the law could jeopardize the individual’s ability to remain in the United States. Becoming a naturalized citizen can take years, even decades and few would risk the penalties that come with committing voting fraud.

As leading voting rights organizations explain, our electoral system already has safeguards in place to ensure our elections are secure. Legislative efforts to require proof of citizenship for voter registration would disenfranchise millions of voters who don’t have a passport, birth certificate, or another form of identification, especially older and very young Americans, citizens on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, and low-frequency voters.

Here are some key facts you need to know about the myth of non-citizen voting:

<1% Close to zero is the percentage of non-citizens who have ever registered to vote.
Less than 1 percent and closer to 0 is the percentage of non-citizens who have ever registered to vote, let alone tried to vote. (Source: Cato Institute).

9% or 21 million American citizens cannot access proof of citizenship.
Nine percent of adult American citizens cannot readily provide proof of their American citizenship, thus 21 million eligible American citizen voters could be disenfranchised by proof of citizenship documentation requirements. (Source: Brennan Center)

8 million young people will reach voting age in 2024.
8 million potential new young voters are aging into the electorate in 2024. (Source: Tufts College: CIRCLE)

45% of new young voters in 2024 are people of color.
45 percent of new young eligible voters are youth of color. (Source: Tufts College: CIRCLE)

2% of voters or 3.8 million adult citizens have no proof of citizenship.
3.8 million voting-age American citizens do not have a birth certificate, passport, naturalization certificate, or a certificate of citizenship.  (Source: CDCE)

7 years is the average time it takes for a legal permanent resident to become a citizen.
On average, immigrants who became U.S. citizens in 2022 held legal permanent residence status (LPR) for about seven years before becoming naturalized citizens. The requirements for naturalization include being at least 18 years of age, passing English and civic exams, and residing in the United States with LPR status continuously for at least five years (three years for those married to a U.S. citizen). (Source: MPI)