|The picture above was taken on 08/31/11 following a naturalization
ceremony at Boston’s TD Garden. See more pictures from the event.
In October, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) revised its guidelines on voter registration at naturalization ceremonies. Now, for the first time ever, USCIS has committed to providing new citizens the opportunity to register at every administrative naturalization ceremony in the country.
This is incredible news! While many elections officials and nonprofits have worked to bring voter registration to naturalization ceremonies, this is the first unifying directive. Demos has summarized what this means for all involved parties in “Voter Registration for New Americans”:
- New citizens will be encouraged and able to register to vote as soon as they become citizens. This will help close the registration gap between native born and naturalized citizens who are registered at 71.8% and 60.5%, respectively.
- State and local elections officials will be called upon to increase their activities at ceremonies and dedicate staff time to cover as many events as possible.
- Voter registration groups, as long as they are nonpartisan, can provide voter registration assistance at naturalization ceremonies, complementing elections officials’ efforts and filling existing gaps.
- USCIS will undertake responsibility for ensuring that all new citizens receive voter registration forms when neither elections officials nor registration groups can be present and will work to make voter registration part of the naturalization ceremony.
With this new strategy in place, it will be exciting to see how many new citizens are registered at naturalization ceremonies in 2012!