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New Citizens Swell Voter Rolls in Fairfax

Tim Craig

Rokey Suleman, Fairfax's general registrar of voters, said in an interview today his office is processing an average of 1,800 voter registration applications a week. The figure does not include change of address or name change applications.

"They are really, really pushing," Suleman said of efforts by Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) campaign and others to register more voters.

Suleman said new citizens account for a big part of the increase. Suleman said his office processes an average of 300 to 400 applications a day from people who just obtained their U.S. citizenship. One in ten residents in Fairfax County are foreign born, according to Census data.

On some days, the numbers of applications received from new citizens can spike as high as 500, Suleman said. Over the past two weeks, Suleman said his office processed 3,100 applications from new citizens, which he says coincides with an effort by federal authorities to clear a backlog of citizenship applications before the November election.

By Tim Craig  |  July 28, 2008; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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I am surprised that there are so many "new citizens" lining up to vote. 300-400 a day who just received their citizenship? That doesn't sound right. Sounds like widespread voter fraud.

Posted by: mclovin | July 28, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Mclovin, I'm not sure why you're so quick to accuse fraud.

The Citizen and Immigration service welcomes 3200 naturalized citizens EVERY DAY (according to their June 2007 newsletter). Surely in Fairfax County, with it's population of over 1,000,000 people, proximity to Washington, DC, and the federal government's recent effort to speed-up the naturalization process, we shouldn't be surprised that a few thousand naturalized citizens are signing up to vote.

Please, don't jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon. It's a lousy ride.

Posted by: Chris | July 28, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Mclovin wrote this:

"I am surprised that there are so many "new citizens" lining up to vote. 300-400 a day who just received their citizenship? That doesn't sound right. Sounds like widespread voter fraud."

Maybe I'm missing the joke here, but if this comment is meant seriously it is off the mark.

Fairfax County has more than 1 million residents--actually it's closer to 1.1 million. Per this article 1 in 10 are foreign born. That's 110,000, which admittedly includes kids and those who either already are citizens or are not yet citizens. Since when does 300 to 400 new citizens a day in the whole county seem high, given those numbers? Add in the current (and praiseworthy) federal backlog-clearing and it even sounds low to me.

On another point, it's interesting that the totals here don't include change-of-address applications for already-registered voters. I'm sure the voter registration drives are getting some people to report changes of address (required in order to vote) who otherwise would not have gotten around to it. To the extent that's true, those voters would have been lost from the system without the registration drives as well.

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | July 28, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

In election year the Inmigration department goes crazy speding up citizenships. A friend of mine became citizen in 2004, and it took her just 3 months to get it done.

Posted by: carl29 | July 28, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that for Republicans, any citizen participating in the electoral process who votes Democratic is committing "electoral fraud".

How Republican of them to think so.

Posted by: Doug in Mount Vernon | July 28, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

This is great news. Citizens actually registering to vote! But it is not just new citizens who are registering. It is folks who have never registered before despite being born in the USA.

Posted by: STEPHEN SPITZ | July 28, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

i hope they vote twice.

Posted by: jim mellott | July 28, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

That is excellent news for the Obama campaign. I don't believe immigrants are becoming American citizens so that they can vote Republican. Not this time. I have conducted several non-partisan voter registration drives in Fairfax and that is what I hear again and again.

Posted by: New American | July 28, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Chris wrote:

"Mclovin, I'm not sure why you're so quick to accuse fraud."
Voter Registration Fraud in Virginia (Youtube link):

Posted by: NativeNorthern Virginian | July 29, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The registrar seems to attribute the 1,800/week registrations to the Obama people out beating the bushes. But he also says that 300-400 new citizens register every day, which would be 1,500-2,000/week totally unrelated to the Obama campaign.

Posted by: Arlington | July 29, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The story is short on facts. It says "new immigrants account for a big part of the increase" in new voter registration. But how much of an increase are we talking? So there are now 1,800 voter registration applications a week now, compared to how many per week this time last year? And why would "federal authorities" be clearing up a backlog before the election? Was this verified? Could all be true, but the writer needs to document better. Call the Obama people and the McCain campaign and ask if these allegations are true.

Posted by: journalist | July 29, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

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