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Human Rights Day 2020

Barriers to Voting

The path to voting is significantly difficult for certain demographics

Explore the tabs below to learn more...

Rights of U.S. Territory Residents 

  • Excluding American Samoans, residents of U.S. territories are U.S. citizens
  • They can enroll in the military
  • However...
    • Unless they move to the mainland, they do not have the right to vote in a presidential election
  • American Samoans
    • In order to vote, they would need to complete the complex immigration and naturalization process before moving to the mainland


Explore some of the library's journal articles below:

Non-Citizens' Voting Rights:

  • Due to voting fraud concerns, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed in 1996
    • Placed tight restrictions on non-Citizens' right to vote (despite any intention of gaining legal citizenship)
  • To gain the right to vote, non-citizens must
    • Establish residency in the U.S. (live here for five years)
    • Apply for citizenship (lengthy process / citizenship is not guaranteed) 
      • As a Naturalized Citizen, they can then vote 
  • Permanent Residents (not citizens, but granted the right to live & work in the U.S. with a "Green Card")
    • Not permitted to vote in federal elections 
    • Voting or registering to vote could result in deportation 
  • Some states/cities allow non-citizens to vote in local and state elections


Explore some of the library's journal articles below:

Voting Rights of Felons:

  • The voting rights of felons are decided on a state-to-state basis 
  • People serving a felony sentence may lose their right to vote 
  • People with felony histories may not have their right to vote restored, even after completing parole or probation 


Explore some of the library's journal articles below:

Mental Disabilities and Voting Rights:

  • Citizens with mental disabilities are sometimes disenfranchised during the voting process
    • This often stems from voting fraud concerns
  • No standard for assessing a person's mental ability to vote exists
  • In some states, judges have the ability to rid people with mental disabilities of their right to vote
  • Without an approved means of assessing people's mental ability to vote, citizens with disabilities may unjustly lose their voting rights 


Explore some of the library's journal articles below:

Homelessness: Barriers to Voting 

  • Homeless people can vote
  • However...
    • The process of registering to vote is difficult and may seem intimidating and inaccessible 
    • Most states' voter registration policies require a
      • Mailing address 
        • The option exists to list any address that is willing to accept mail on behalf of the voter (i.e. shelter)
      • State-issued ID 
        • There are alternative options if a person does not have an ID. But the process may be quite difficult for a homeless citizen 


Explore some of the resources below:

Image Reference:

Robert Couse-Baker (Creator). i voted today [Photograph: licensed under CC BY 2.0]. Retrieved from