An Extraordinary Time » How We Got to Where We Are and How We Are Shaping Our Future

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The Green Card Vote

The US Green Card Lottery Application Program, awards 50,000 US green cards to people from all around the world per year.  Having a one entitles a person the right to work and live permanently in this country.  You can also join the military and must pay taxes.  But it does not give you the right to vote.

According to, at one time non-citizens had the legal right to vote.  From 1776 until 1926, 22 states and federal territories allowed non-citizens to vote in local, state, and even federal elections but gradually repealed this right largely due to anti-immigrant sentiments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An estimated 12 million legal permanent residents cannot vote in this country.

Helen Tapping, originally from London, has lived in this United States for nine years but still does not have the right to vote.  “This is my way.” she says waving a political sign from the University Bridge.  “I’m legal, but I just can’t vote.”




Helen Tapping, 36  I actually am a green card holder and I don’t get to vote.  I get to pay taxes but I don’t get to vote.  So I’m doing everything I can to get democrats out to get to the polls and vote for Barak Obama.


The reason I’m out on the bridge is because I was on phone banks last night and phone banks this morning.  My bum went to sleep so I need some fresh air.  I asked what else I could do and they said ‘Do you want to wave signs?’ and I’m like “Sure.  I’ll do whatever.”  And its great.  People are beeping.  We’ve been flipped off a few times but more people have beeped and waved.  Its such a great feeling.  It gives us some hope.

© Karen Ducey 2008


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