Chairman Crowley Introduces Citizenship Empowerment Act to Provide Voter Registration Forms to New Citizens

July 5, 2017

(Washington, DC) – House Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA) have introduced legislation to require that all newly sworn-in U.S. citizens be uniformly provided voter registration forms at naturalization ceremonies, making it easier for them to exercise their core right as a citizen: the right to vote.

Currently, only some states and local election officials provide such materials to newly sworn-in citizens. The Citizenship Empowerment Act (H.R. 3113) would require officials to provide voter registration forms in citizenship packets and would allow election officials to set up informational tables outside naturalization ceremonies.

“We should do everything within our power to make it easier for Americans to vote, as that is the fundamental tool for ensuring a more perfect union,” saidChairman Crowley. “Newly sworn-in Americans have demonstrated their commitment and dedication to our country, and they are often eager to make their voices heard.  Providing voter registration forms at naturalization ceremonies would go a long way into making that a reality. I applaud Congressman Boyle for his leadership on this important issue and hope my colleagues will be inspired by the Independence Day Holiday to support this legislation.”

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democratic system.  We should make it easier, not harder, for citizens to vote or register to vote whenever possible,” said Congressman Boyle. “We should do all we can to provide all citizens a fair opportunity to participate in our democracy – and in fact encourage them to do so – regardless of the location they happen to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. The first step of a truly representative democracy is participation. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Joe to cap off Immigrant Heritage Month and commemorate July Fourth.”

The legislation is endorsed by Common Cause and the National Partnership for New Americans.

“Many immigrants to the United States fought and died for the right to vote,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at Common Cause. “Ensuring that new American citizens can fully participate in our democracy is a common-sense reform, and Common Cause commends Representative Boyle for introducing the Citizenship Empowerment Act.”

Providing new citizens with voter registration forms at their naturalization ceremonies is allowed but not required by federal law. This is an obvious disparity, whereas one new U.S. citizen can be sworn-in and immediately be given the opportunity to register to vote, while another may have to jump through multiple hoops to track down the necessary paperwork.