U.S. passport
U.S. passport Creative Commons

A survey by the Brennan Center has revealed that more than 9% of American citizens of voting age don't have proof of citizenship readily available, including passports, birth certificates, or naturalization papers. That means that, among other things, 21.3 million Americans would be denied voting registration if required to show a document as proof of citizenship.

What's more, the study highlighted racial disparities in the availability of citizenship documents. While just over 8% of white American citizens lack readily available documentation, this figure rises to nearly 11% among Americans of color.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with VoteRiders, the Center for Civic Democracy and Engagement (CDCE) at the University of Maryland, and Public Wise uncovered several other insights into the possession of citizenship documentation among American voters. For example, at least 3.8 million American citizens do not possess the aforementioned documents at all, with reasons ranging from loss, destruction, or theft to them being stored in places like a relative's home or a safety deposit box.

The researchers emphasized the importance of convenience in voter participation:

Convenience matters when it comes to consistent participation in American elections. Even if a citizen is certain that a passport or birth certificate is in a safety deposit box at the bank, voters are busy; an additional trip to the bank would surely prevent some voters from registering to vote if such documents were required.

The study also addressed the effectiveness of current protections against noncitizen voting, noting that "ballots cast by noncitizens are vanishingly rare" and, therefore, the imposition of stricter documentation requirements would likely create substantial barriers for eligible voters.

"We should be making it easier, not harder, for these citizens to participate", concluded the study.

Back in March, a report by Axios revealed that, despite claims made on several occasion by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, there's no evidence of immigrants who aren't U.S. citizens voting in the country's elections, let alone influencing outcomes. "The very few who try it typically do so by accident, and are caught", explained Axios, adding that the penalties can be as severe as prison time or deportation.

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