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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Michigan elections FAQ: Can undocumented immigrants vote here?

Voter booths
Bridge Michigan is answering reader questions about the 2024 elections as part of our Elections FAQ series.
  • A readers asks Bridge if undocumented immigrants are allowed to vote in Michigan’s 2024 election
  • Federal law prohibits noncitizens from voting in state or federal elections. Experts say violations are very rare
  • Some states have moved to explicitly prohibit noncitizens from voting, and Republicans have proposed federal legislation

As election season draws near and political debates heat up, Bridge Michigan is inviting readers to ask questions about our purple state as part of our Elections FAQ series, which includes a weekly live video show and written responses. 

Submit your question here

One reader recently asked: Are undocumented immigrants allowed to vote in Michigan's 2024 election?


The answer: No, undocumented immigrants cannot vote in Michigan’s 2024 election. Only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote in any state or federal election, including in Michigan. 


Under federal law, a person must meet eligibility requirements multiple times during the voting process: when they register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot and when they apply for a ballot in person. And under Michigan law, it is a crime to lie on those forms.

In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed a law that prohibited noncitizens from voting in federal elections. The Michigan Constitution only grants voting rights to citizens, but seven states have gone further by explicitly prohibiting noncitizen voting, a step that five other states are considering through ballot initiatives. 

Attempted voting by noncitizens in the U.S. is extremely rare, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. In the 2016 general election, about 30 noncitizens were suspected of trying to vote, a tiny fraction of the 23.5 million total voters. 

But with illegal crossings at the country's southern border reaching all-time highs, several Republicans have raised the specter of noncitizens voting.


In Congress, Republicans recently proposed the SAVE Act, or Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, which requires proof of citizenship to register to vote. Michigan U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, Lisa McClain and John Moolenaar co-sponsored the legislation. 

Washington D.C. for the first time this year allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections if they have resided in the district for at least 30 days before the election, are at least 18 years of age, are not legally deemed ineligible to vote by a court and do not claim the right to vote in another state, territory or nation. 

That’s not allowed in Michigan under current state and federal law.

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