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Only US citizens can vote

Only U.S. citizens can vote

In Michigan, and in every state, only U.S. citizens are eligible to register to vote or cast a ballot in any state or federal election.

There is no evidence to support claims that large numbers of noncitizens have voted in past elections or are registering to vote in 2024. In fact, the name of everyone who registers or votes in an election is a public record – it would be very easy to see if noncitizens were registering or voting in large numbers.

Registering to vote

Federal law requires people to state under penalty of perjury that they meet the eligibility requirements – including being a citizen of the United States – at several critical points:

  • When they register to vote
  • When they apply for an absentee ballot
  • When they return an absentee ballot
  • When they apply for a ballot in person

It is illegal to lie on Michigan voter registration forms, ballot applications, or ballot submission forms. These are public documents and are saved after each election, creating a preserved record. Penalties for false statements may include prison time, fines, and deportation. Given the consequences, it’s not surprising that noncitizens are unlikely to intentionally register or try to vote.

Having a Michigan driver’s license or state ID does not mean a person is registered to vote. Michigan’s computerized system for driver’s license or state ID applications does not allow an applicant to be registered to vote if they provide noncitizen documents – it’s not even an option. Secretary of State employees can’t override the system or add them to the voter registration list another way.

After any type of voter registration, there are multiple checks to identify and correct any accidental registrations.

Research and impact

Research shows attempted voting by noncitizens in federal elections is extremely rare.

For example, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice analyzing 23.5 million votes across 42 jurisdictions in the 2016 general election, concluded that there were about 30 instances of noncitizens casting votes – 0.0001% of the vote in those jurisdictions.

An analysis by the Heritage Foundation identified just 129 proven incidents of noncitizens registering to vote or casting a ballot in the last 21 years. In any given year, there are more people living in space at the International Space Station than attempting to vote as noncitizens in the United States.

Any instance of illegal voting by noncitizens in Michigan has been investigated by the appropriate authorities. There is no evidence that these votes – or any other instance of voter fraud – have happened at any significant scale.