Naturalization is the process that allows individuals born abroad to obtain citizenship in the United States, which is also known as American citizenship. One of the benefits or privileges acquired through naturalization is the right to vote in elections to elect government officials and legislative representatives at the federal, state and local levels.
The Right to Vote: Ballots and Elections
In light of the upcoming November 8 presidential elections in 2016, we believe that it is important to review the following reminders for those who have obtained citizenship recently, and who will perhaps vote in the United States for the first time:
Voting Registration Deadlines
In all states except North Dakota, you must be a registered voter before you are allowed to enter the polls. Some states close the registration deadline 30 days before election day. Other states keep their voter registration systems open and active until the day of the election. It is important that you get to know the voter registration deadlines in your state and to keep them in mind.
• You can get also get help and assistance with the voting process.
• You can get help in languages other than English.
• There is help available for voters with disabilities.
• You can get assistance with voting equipment.
• You can file a complaint if you encounter discrimination during the voting process.
If you believe your rights as a voter have not been honored, you can file a report with the authorities.
Here are some examples of voter discrimination:
• Denying a citizen his or her right to vote based on their race, country of origin or * religion.
• Require a voter pass a reading comprehension exam or to explain portions of the U.S. Constitution in order to vote.
• Require someone who wants to register to vote to bring to attest that they are a citizen of “good behavior.”
If you are not a U.S. citizen, naturalized or otherwise, registering to vote or attempting to vote in federal elections is considered a crime. For this reason, if you are a legal permanent resident you must first obtain citizenship by means of naturalization before you can vote. Learn about who is eligible for American citizenship and the requirements for naturalization.
Other benefits of American citizenship
Besides the right to vote, once granted citizenship people born abroad obtain most of the rights of people born in the United States, such as the right to apply for and obtain government jobs and freedom to travel with an American passport.
With regard to family-based immigration, you can sponsor as many direct relatives such as siblings, parents, married children and their children. This is something that is not allowed to those who have are permanent legal residents by virtue of their green cards, who can only apply for their spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age along with their respective children. Learn more about the benefits of American citizenship.
Average time it takes to achieve American citizenship
Currently, in the Boston, Massachusetts region, the process of naturalization can last between four to six months. For more information and details about the process of American citizenship and naturalization in the United States, you can check our website www.fitzgeraldlawcompany.com, or you can request a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers calling 617-303-2600 (ext. 0)
About Desmond P. FitzGerald:
Attorney Desmond P. FitzGerald is the Principal and Managing Director of Fitzgerald Law Company in Boston, MA. He is a criminal and immigration litigator and has successfully litigated hundreds of immigration cases in Federal court. He has more than 20 decisions published and many of them have created precedent. Attorney FitzGerald is admitted by the Bar to practice law in MA, NH, FL, and Washington D.C. and he is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Contributed: Hispanicize Wire – American Citizenship and the Right to Vote in the General Election of November 2016