On Friday, a 30-year-old culinary student and Nigerian immigrant in Nashville, Tennessee, attempted to update her voter registration information so that she could vote in the state’s upcoming primaries. The woman, Funmilayo Ekundayo, had voted in two previous elections, so updating her registration should have been routine. But after getting through the second step of Tennessee’s multistep online voter registration system, which rolled out in 2017, Ekundayo was told by the website that records showed she was “not a citizen of the United States.” It was just days before Tennessee’s July 3 deadline to vote in the August primaries.
Ekundayo, her parents, and her siblings arrived in Tennessee in 1999, when she was 12; she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005. In addition to voting twice since being naturalized, she renewed her Tennessee driver’s license months after the website’s launch. And yet, she was being told that, at the very least, her citizenship had “not yet been updated with the Tennessee Department of Safety.”
Ekundayo told the Daily Dot that she is just one of at least 10 naturalized citizens she’s aware of who was told by Tennesee’s voter registration website that they’re not citizens. After being hit with the message on Friday, Ekundayo posted about the alert on Facebook.
“So I just got this message when I attempted to update my voter registration. This is a lie,” Ekundayo wrote alongside a screenshot of the website. She ended her post with a haunting conclusion: “So, a warning to all naturalized citizens in Tennessee, check your status now!”