CITIZEN VOICES® Citizenship indication on driver’s license?

Feb 04, 2019

State Rep. Betty Irene Gay (R-Salem) has advanced HB 471 that requires all drivers’ licenses and nondrivers’ identification cards indicate whether the holder is a “US Citizen” or “Non-US Citizen.”

The legislation states: “Before the department issues any license to any person under this chapter, the department shall have examined evidence of the person's citizenship.” The bill provides no examples of suitable “evidence.” 

Non-citizens can get a license

Non-citizens who are living in New Hampshire legally —such as refugees, individuals on student visas, and individuals with an employment authorization card —may apply for a driver’s license if they can provide proper documentation of their legal status to the DMV. However, their citizenship status is not currently displayed on the license itself.

Immigrants who are here in New Hampshire illegally cannot get a driver’s license.

Currently, state licenses contain information such as gender, height, weight, age and a photo, and also indicate veteran status and whether the individual is an organ donor.

Pros and cons

Supporters of the legislation say an indication of “US Citizen” or “Non-US Citizen” will give law enforcement more information regarding a person’s status that could be helpful in determining whether the individual is in the country legally or illegally.

Supporters also argue this will also help prevent voter fraud by non-citizens trying to vote.

Opponents of the legislation say there is no reason for state officials and law enforcement to consider the citizenship status of drivers.  The federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement.  They argue that this legislation would unfairly stigmatize legal immigrants. Since proof of citizenship — such as a birth certificate or naturalization papers —  must be shown in order to register to vote, they also argue the move is not an effective strategy for preventing voter fraud.

Should New Hampshire drivers’ licenses show if the person is a U.S. citizen?

Discussion held on Citizens Count website and Facebook page February 4, 2019

233 citizens responded134 citizens were in favor of putting citizenship on driver's licenses51 citizens were opposed to citizenship on driver's licenses48 citizens commented on related questions or issues

What Participants Said

Yes: 134 people were in favor of showing U.S. citizenship status on New Hampshire drivers’ license.

  • “While I prefer less government involvement in general I do feel there needs to be a difference between the resident/non-resident licenses as we use this as a form of ID when registering to vote as well as checking in to vote. There are plenty of non-residents here legally who should be able to get permission [from] the state to operate a motor vehicle.”
  • “Here in NH a ‘same day registered voter’ showing a non-citizen DL would be stopped from voting whereas an affidavit is subject to future verification and an ineligible voter would vote…”
  • “Yes. If you have nothing to hide this shouldn’t be a problem.”

No: 51 people were opposed to showing U.S. citizenship status on New Hampshire drivers’ licenses. 

  • “You need proper documentation just to GET a drivers license or ID. This law would just cause discrimination.”
  • “No. You can't register to vote if you aren't a citizen, so what does it matter? Employment documents for non-citizen immigrants already exist. This would be institutionalized racism just for the sake of racism.”
  • “All immigrants in US are required by Federal Law to carry proof of them being here legally at all times (passport, visa, green card, etc...). Why add another thing?”

Other: 48 people commented on related questions and issues instead.
These included:

  • Don’t license non-citizens: “Drivers licenses should be issued to US citizens ONLY.”
  • Real ID will solve issue: “It is not going to make a difference anyway, everyone in this state is going to have to get a real ID license and when you get one you have to bring docs. Like Birth cert. marriage license, etc.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.

See additional comments on this question from Facebook


David Lefebvre

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 9:46am


Sonja Kap
- alton

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 5:54pm

Yes, that would save a lot of hassle for law enforcement and the many other places a drivers license is required for identification! If your a US citizen than that should be public information.

Patricia Howe
- Northfield

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 4:52pm

Yes. This would help law enforcement and help prevent voter fraud.

Linda Murray
- Brentwood

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 2:14pm

I am a NH resident. We are required to put our address on the drivers license and I have no objection to that being added.

Francis Murzyn
- Merrimack

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 7:12am

I have no problem with it.

Mark Holland
- Nashua

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 8:58pm

Yes, driver’s licenses should indicate whether or not a person is a U.S. citizen. Driver’s licenses are the primary way of identifying voters at polling stations during elections. Indicating the citizenship status of a person on his/her driver’s license would further strengthen the safeguards against fraudulent voting.

Mark A. Holland
Nashua,, NH

Jamie Hicks
- Nashua

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 9:02pm

Immigration status should be displayed on all works/student visa’s to prevent voter fraud.

Linda Wentworth
- Rochester

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 6:52pm

Having our citizenship status on our licenses would definitely make things faster for anyone who requires seeing the ID. And of course it would completely irradiate illegal voting! Yes!

Irene Lagios
- Nashua

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 6:45pm

Yes ! We need to know who is driving in our state and if they are stopped for some infraction the police will also know. This is the only way we can keep statistics correct also.

Donald Parkhurst
- Peterborough

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 6:31pm

Yes it should be included your citizenship status


Related Bill

HB 471 (2019)
Bill Status: Killed in the House
Hearing date: Feb 19, 2019

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