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Automatic Voter Registration and Immigration Consequences

In 2017 then-Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed 10 ILCS 5/1A-16.1 in to law. The law created an Automatic Voter Registration program jointly managed by the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Board of Elections. The program is relatively simple to follow.

When you go to a DMV office to get a new driver’s license or state ID, your names will be checked against the state’s voter rolls. If your voting registration information isn’t up to date, you’ll be asked if you’d like to renew it. If you chose to do so, two questions will appear on a touch pad: one asks about U.S. citizenship, and another asks whether you’re at least 18 years old. You’ll then be asked to sign the touchpad under an attestation for voter eligibility.

Changes to the Opt-In Program

Until 2019, the AVR requests were “opt-in” requests. That is, the applicant was asked by Illinois to choose to participate in the program. However, starting in 2019, the program becomes an “opt-out” program. Instead of Illinois asking you to participate in AVR, you’ll have to tell Illinois you don’t want to participate in the AVR. If you are here without status, your status has lapsed, or even if you have some form of status, you should ask to opt-out of Illinois’ AVR process.

In most jurisdictions, only U.S. citizenship confers the right to vote in elections. In recognition of these principles, Congress provided a specific ground of inadmissibility to address when a foreign national falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen for any purpose or benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) or any other federal or state law. Indeed, the immigration consequences for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship are severe. Participation in Illinois’ AVR program would be considered a false claim to citizenship, potentially subjecting you to serious immigration consequences.

If you have questions about how Illinois’s AVR program could affect your immigration status contact Godoy Law Office today. Our knowledgeable immigration attorneys can help you avoid unintended consequences from being unwittingly enrolled in Illnois’ AVR program.

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