Can Green Card Holders Vote?

May 6, 2024

Voting is a fundamental part of the democratic process in the United States, serving as a direct line through which citizens can shape their government and its policies. For green card holders, also known as lawful permanent residents, understanding what legal rights pertain to voting is crucial. This blog will explore these rights and delineate clear boundaries set by immigration laws

Who Is a Green Card Holder?

A green card holder, or a lawful permanent resident, is a non-citizen who has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. While they enjoy many of the benefits that come with residency, including the ability to sponsor relatives for their own green cards, there are key differences from U.S. citizens, particularly regarding legal rights and responsibilities.

Voting Rights in the United States

In the U.S., voting rights are reserved for U.S. citizens. This includes voting in federal presidential elections and most state and local elections. The U.S. Constitution and various federal laws regulate these rights, making it clear that non-citizens, including green card holders, are not eligible to participate in these elections.

Can Green Card Holders Vote in U.S. Elections?

No, green card holders can not vote in U.S. elections. 

Green card holders are prohibited from voting in federal or national elections, which include presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives races. This restriction also applies to most state and local elections; however, there are a few exceptions in certain towns or cities where local laws allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, including school board elections.

Local Elections

As of now, most states do not allow non-citizens to vote in local or state elections, aligning with federal laws that reserve the right to vote in federal and state elections strictly for U.S. citizens. However, there are exceptions. Some jurisdictions within states like Maryland and Vermont allow non-citizens to participate in certain local elections, primarily school board elections or town meetings.

Federal Elections 

Federal elections in the United States include the presidential elections, as well as those for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Those who vote in federal elections help determine the president and leadership at the highest levels of the federal government, which have significant implications for national policy.

Consequences of Illegal Voting

Voting illegally in federal, state, or local elections can have severe consequences for a green card holder. This includes the possibility of deportation, criminal charges, and disqualification from naturalization. It is crucial for green card holders to understand these laws fully to avoid inadvertent violations that could impact their residency status.

Other Civic Engagements Available to Green Card Holders

While they may be restricted from voting, green card holders can still engage in other aspects of political life. They can volunteer in political campaigns, join civic organizations, advocate for community issues, and help educate fellow residents about important social and political matters. Such engagements provide avenues to contribute to the community and the political landscape without violating any laws.

Pathways to Voting - Becoming a Citizen

The most straightforward pathway for a green card holder to gain voting rights is to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization. After meeting residency and other criteria, green card holders can apply for citizenship and, upon approval, enjoy full voting rights along with other benefits of citizenship, such as the ability to travel with a U.S. passport and greater security in residency status.

Learn Your Rights with Immigration Attorneys Salmón & Haas

If you are a green card holder with questions about your voting rights or the naturalization process or are seeking to become a green card holder, contact immigration attorneys Salmón & Haas. We have years of experience helping individuals and their families gain full rights as permanent residents and U.S. citizens. You don't have to navigate immigration law alone; we can provide guidance tailored to your unique situation. 

Let Us Help You Win Your Case Today

Immigration law can be complex, but we always stay on top of the latest developments. If you have questions about immigration law or your immigration case, contact us today to set up a free initial consultation.

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