We have had more than a few applicants who accidentally (and unlawfully) registered to vote. From what we can tell, this is a result of the National Voter Registration Act (also called the Motor Voter law), which requires states to give residents the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for a driver’s license. I’ve attached a copy of the Massachusetts driver’s license application above; as you can see, Part G asks applicants if they want to register to vote. Many of the applicants we have spoken with checked “Yes,” because they do want to register to vote after they naturalize, and they did not realize that doing so would cause them to be registered now.
There are two big questions that come up when an applicant has registered to vote: 1. Does that registration count as a false claim to citizenship? And 2. How can you unregister the applicant, so that they are not registered to vote when USCIS receives their application?
False claim to citizenship
Accidentally registering to vote is not usually a false claim to citizenship. Especially in cases like the one I described above, where the applicant was simply confused about the question on the driver’s license application, they never intended to claim citizenship – they checked the box because they do want to register to vote someday, or because they did not completely understand the form. In that case, you do not have to worry that they made a false claim.
Unregistering an applicant
Applicants who have accidentally registered to vote should write a letter to their city or town clerk, stating that they registered in error and would like to be removed from the voter rolls. Kellie has created a form letter that applicants can send in, which is attached. For Boston residents, the letter can be mailed to:
City of Boston Election Department
City Hall, Room 241
Boston, MA 02201
Secretary Galvin’s office told us that USCIS does call them to make sure that applicants have a letter like this on file, so it is important that the letter be mailed at the same time as the application, or very soon after.
What to do if an applicant thinks they might have registered, but is not sure
If an applicant cannot remember if they registered to vote or voted, you can check their registration status online at (sec.state.ma.us/VoterRegistrationSearch/MyVoterRegStatus.aspx)