19 Oct 2016 False claims about unlawful voting
There have been many people who claim non-citizens are registering to vote in the upcoming elections, and their votes could affect the ultimate outcome of the Presidential election. These claims and accusations are unfounded, and there is no vast conspiracy to have non-citizens vote in the upcoming federal election.
I realize there could be situations where an alien may have accidentally or inadvertently registered to vote. Sometimes this can happen when they renew their driver’s license. There is a section on the form allowing them to register to vote. Not understanding what that section means, they fill the entire form out, thereby unintentionally registering to vote. Other times, they may be coming out of a supermarket, and a person with a clipboard asks if they want to register to vote, without explaining they must be a US citizen to do so, they register even if they are non-citizen.
What these critics need to understand is that the punishment and consequences for any non-citizen voting in the election are harsh and severe. First, it is a criminal offense for a non-citizen to vote in a federal election. Therefore, if a non-citizen votes in the election, that person could go to jail.
Second, it is also a ground of inadmissibility/removability to vote in a federal election. So even if the person is not charged with a crime and jailed, they could be deported, even if they are a green card holder.
Third, if the person ever wants to apply for US citizenship, there are several questions on the N-400 about whether they registered to vote or voted in federal elections. If they check “yes”, not only will their naturalization application be denied, but they could be placed in deportation/removal.
Fourth, USCIS has the ability to access voter registration records, to confirm if the applicant for naturalization ever registered to vote. So even if the person checked the “no” box on the naturalization application, then “crime” could still be discovered, resulting in possible jail or deportation.
Therefore, with non-citizens knowing the severe consequences of unlawful voting or registering to vote, they would be foolish to take the chance to do so. However, if you are among the people who may have mistakenly or inadvertently registered to vote or voted in a federal election, seek the advice of an immigration attorney, who can evaluate your situation, and determine if waivers or relief are available to you. The bottom line is I do not think critics must be concerned about unlawful voting by non-citizens, because the stakes and penalties are just too high.
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