Politics

Refugee Welcome Baskets Come With Voter Registration (Video)

| by Kit Bryer

Some conservatives are unhappy the Nebraska Democratic Party is putting voter registration forms in refugee welcome baskets (video below).

In a video, posted by the Nebraska Democratic Party to Facebook on March 18, Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, gave viewers a glimpse into one of their four annual training meetings. 

After leaving the meeting, with her camera broadcasting live to Facebook, Kleeb explained the NDP's welcome basket program which Democrats, with the help of local communities and churches, put together 

"When [President Donald Trump] put in his racist travel ban, we put out a call to action to Democrats across the state saying 'help us create welcome baskets for immigrant and refugee families who are making Nebraska their home,' and the response has been incredibly overwhelming and just really heartwarming," Kleeb says in the video.

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Kleeb went on to detail some of the items in the baskets, including the voter registration form:

Whether it's diapers or toilet paper and towels, but there's also dishes and blankets and rice cookers, utensils [...] and we made sure that we had individuals write a little note to the families and then inside each basket there's also a letter from the Nebraska Democratic Party welcoming the family to Nebraska. It's signed by me as chair of the party and then we include a sticker in there for them to put on their car and also include the voter registration form and our contact information in case they want to reach out.

Comments on Facebook and YouTube questioned the motivation behind the NDP's decision to hand out voter registration forms to newly arrived refugees and immigrants, who cannot legally register to vote. 

"Why are you giving non-citizens voter registration forms?" asked one Facebook user. "They aren't legally allowed to vote, so what is your motivation?"

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"This is voter fraud!" a YouTube user wrote on the Conservative Review's page. "It's ILLEGAL for non citizens to vote! Get ready cause we're throwing Democrats in JAIL and throwing their refugee criminals OUT OF THE COUNTRY! Outrage!"

"Voter Registration cards for non-citizens?" wrote another. "Are you freaking kidding me? Voter fraud!"

While it is illegal for noncitizens to vote, and also illegal to intentionally register a noncitizen to vote, there are no laws restricting who can access voter registration forms. 

"It is not illegal to be handing out voter registration forms so folks start to get familiar," Kleeb told Conservative Review. 

Kleeb added that the purpose of including those forms was in the hopes that the families begin "to get familiar with democracy and how you become a voter in our country."

I registered individuals from Somalia and Sudan this election cycle that have recently become citizens, and this is a very new process for them. We had to sit down with them and really help them understand how to fill out their name and where to put in their birth date because it’s just a whole new process for them than what they had in their home country.

Kleeb also noted that the forms given out with the welcome baskets do say in writing that you have to be a U.S. citizen before you can register to vote. 

Sources: Nebraska Democratic Party/Facebook, Conservative Review/YouTube, Conservative Review / Photo credit: Nebraska Democratic Party/Facebook

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