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Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Bill to Improve Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremonies

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), U.S. Representative Norma Torres (D-CA), and 18 colleagues in introducing bicameral legislation to improve voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies. The Including New Voters In The Electorate (INVITE) Act would designate United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act, requiring USCIS staff to help new U.S. citizens complete their voter registration forms and return them to the appropriate state agency following their naturalization.

“Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy and exercising this fundamental right should be as simple and easy as possible,” said Senator Hirono. “By improving voter registration opportunities at naturalization ceremonies, this legislation will help expand access to voter registration, empowering new U.S. citizens to participate in our democracy and make their voices heard.”

While USCIS policy states that the agency should provide new U.S. citizens with voter registration forms at their USCIS naturalization ceremonies, the policy does not currently require the agency to assist new U.S. citizens in properly filling out or returning their forms, leaving many newly eligible United States citizens unregistered to vote. New citizens naturalized at judicial ceremonies or without a formal ceremony are at an even greater disadvantage, having no guarantee of even receiving voter registration information. Just 61% of all naturalized U.S. citizens were registered to vote during the November 2022 election, compared to 70% of citizens born in the United States.

The INVITE Act would maintain USCIS’s flexibility to work with state voter registration agencies and nonpartisan voter registration organizations, and it would allow the agency to develop and implement plans with each state to carry out this important work.

Specifically, designating USCIS field offices under the National Voter Registration Act would require them to:

  • Work with states to develop and implement a plan to distribute voter registration information and forms to new citizens following naturalization,
  • Offer assistance to new citizens in filling out the voter registration application, and
  • Transmit the completed application to the appropriate state election official or agency.

USCIS has begun developing potential methods to increase voter registration in response to the White House’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting, which called on agencies to “consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.”

The INVITE Act is endorsed by the ACLU, League of Women Voters of the United States, Stand Up America, The Brennan Center for Justice, National Partnership for New Americans, Demos, CHIRLA, People for the American Way, Welcoming America, SEIU, Common Cause, National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, End Citizens United, and League of Conservation Voters.

In addition to Senator Hirono, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cosponsored the bill. In the House, Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), and Delia C. Ramirez (D-IL) cosponsored this legislation.

The full text of the legislation is available here.