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.
Louisiana: Foreign-born citizens in Louisiana have had to take extra steps to register to vote — until now | PRI
Until this week, naturalized citizens in Louisiana were required to go an extra mile to register to vote: After filing a standard registration form, potential voters born outside the US were required to submit proof of citizenship, in person, at their local registrar’s office. “It felt like we were targeted,” says Tu Hoang, an attorney in Louisiana. Hoang, 28, emigrated from Vietnam with his parents when he was five. He became a US citizen when he was 19 and registered to vote soon after. He was able to navigate the system without any hiccups, providing proof of citizenship with his voter registration form, but noticed an unsettling shift years later when he was organizing voter registration drives in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans. Around 2012 the procedure became more cumbersome — a shift other advocates also noticed. The proof of citizenship requirement became more strictly enforced and applicants were required to make an extra trip, several weeks after filing the registration form, rather than submitting both together.