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Nov 07, 2022 | Madeline Faber

Can Green Card Holders and Other Immigrants Vote?

There are nearly 12.9 million lawful permanent residents in the U.S. Also known as green card holders, this population lives and works in the U.S. legally while paying taxes — but what happens if they attempt to vote in an election? Read on to learn more.

Naturalized citizens and people born in the U.S. are allowed to vote in local, state and federal elections if they meet certain criteria. They must be over 18 years old, meet the residency requirements of the state they want to vote in, and be registered to vote.

Green card holders are not allowed to vote. Immigrants who cannot vote in federal elections include those who have a visa, have not yet completed the naturalization process, are undocumented or immigrants and are DACA recipients. To vote, immigrants have to convert from being a green card holder to becoming a U.S. citizen. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 9.2. million – or 70 percent of overall lawful permanent residents – are eligible for naturalization.

Where can green card holders vote?

Federal voting is not allowed for green card holders. But, there are 14 cities that have passed laws that allow this population to vote in local elections for the school board, mayor and other municipal positions. This list shows which cities allow non-citizen voting

What’s going on in NYC?

Green card holders cannot vote locally in New York City – yet. In 2021, New York City Council approved Int. 1867-2020, also known as the Our City Our Vote law, which enfranchised green card holders and immigrants with work authorization to vote in local elections starting in 2023. However, shortly after the law was passed, a New York Supreme Court judge struck down the law, stating that it violated the state constitution. City leaders filed to appeal the decision but no significant changes have happened.

What happens if a green card holder votes?

If an immigrant attempts to vote or register to vote, the consequences are serious. Federal law states that a noncitizen can face a fine, one year in prison, or both – and be eligible for deportation. Also, having a voting offense makes an immigrant inadmissible to getting a U.S. visa or naturalization in the future. 

Also Read: How to Get a Green Card as an Undocumented Immigrant in the United States

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