The Hunt for Noncitizen Voters Academic Article uri icon


  • Over the past year, states have shown increasing angst about noncitizens registering to vote. Three states-Tennessee, Kansas, and Alabama-have passed new laws requiring documentary proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register. Arizona was the first state to pass such a requirement, but the Ninth Circuit struck it down in April 2012, finding it incompatible with the National Voter Registration Act.2 Two other states-Florida and Colorado-have waged aggressive campaigns in recent months to purge noncitizens from voter registration lists. These efforts to weed out noncitizen voters follow on the heels of legislation targeting undocumented immigrants in a number of states. Yet citizens may be more harmed by the new laws than noncitizens, especially since the number of noncitizens registering to vote has turned out to be quite small. Wrongfully targeting naturalized or minority citizens in the search for noncitizens could also have negative ramifications for society as a whole, reinforcing unconscious bias about who is a "real" American and creating subclasses of citizens who must overcome additional hurdles to exercise the right to vote.

author list (cited authors)

  • Marouf, F. E.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012 11:11 AM