Your Voice Matters: Citizenship, Voting, and the 2024 Election

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Your Voice Matters: Citizenship, Voting, and the 2024 Election

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Your Voice Matters: Citizenship, Voting, and the 2024 Election

In honor of Citizenship Day (Sunday, September 17) and Constitution Week (September 17 through 23), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is welcoming nearly 7,000 new U.S. citizens in over 130 naturalization ceremonies across the nation. The commemoration honors both the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 and an observance that began in the 1940s as “I Am an American Day.” Each year, USCIS celebrates these events by celebrating the connection between the Constitution and citizenship, reflecting on what it means to be a citizen of the United States, and holding special naturalization ceremonies around the country.

Becoming a United States citizen is a significant milestone for countless immigrants and represents the final step in the U.S. immigration process for those who aspire to, and qualify for, this status. After residing lawfully in the country for either three or five years, eligible individuals must complete a comprehensive, multi-step process that includes demonstrating good moral character, passing written and oral English tests (unless exempted due to age or disability) and a 100-question civics test (unless exempted due to disability), and, finally, taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

One of the many privileges of U.S. citizenship is the ability to actively participate in the democratic process and make one’s voice heard. This includes the right to vote in federal, state, and local elections, as well as the opportunity to run for federal public office. To appreciate the importance of voting, it is essential to understand the historical evolution of voting rights in the United States. While currently, most American citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote, this was not always the case. For a significant portion of history, voting was generally limited to landowning white men, while women, Black individuals, Native Americans, and other marginalized groups were disenfranchised. These groups fought tirelessly for their voting rights, and in some cases, voter suppression efforts persist today in various states and localities, seeking to curtail voting rights and discourage eligible voters from exercising this fundamental right.

With the 2024 election year on the horizon, the recent close presidential elections, and divisive issues at the forefront, including immigration, it has never been more critical for all eligible voters to participate. Additionally, those who meet the eligibility criteria and wish to apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization) should do so promptly to become registered voters in time for the 2024 general election, scheduled for Tuesday, November 5, 2024. Each state sets its own deadlines for when voters must registrar to vote in a scheduled election. These deadlines are searchable by state here: https://www.headcount.org/deadlines-dates/.

In line with its commitment to the citizenship process, USCIS has prioritized the processing of naturalization applications, directing additional officer resources to ensure these cases are processed as swiftly as possible. Processing times vary by case and location, and applicants must apply in the jurisdiction where they have resided for at least three months prior to their application — but, for instance, the Denver Field Office reports that, in the past six months, 80 percent of cases have been completed within 8.5 months of filing. Our office has even seen applications completed in as little as 4 months this year.

If you have questions about your naturalization eligibility or a pending or recently denied naturalization case, we recommend consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. For current clients seeking assistance, please reach out to the attorney or paralegal handling your case.

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