Welcome to civics class!
The most famous part of the United States citizenship test is the civics portion. In order to become a US citizen, you must correctly answer 6 out of 10 civics questions that will be asked orally during your citizenship interview. Once you correctly answer 6 questions, the officer will stop the test. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a list of the 100 possible questions that may be asked, along with the correct answers so that applicants can study and prepare to take the test.
Each week for the next 20 weeks, I'll be posting 5 questions from the civics test, along with the correct answer and a brief explanation. If you're thinking about applying for United States citizenship, or if you're already a citizen and are merely curious to refresh your memory about the structure of United States government, subscribe to this blog in the box below and test your knowledge!
This week's focus is on voting. With the presidential election right around the corner, it's important to know the facts about voting. In North Carolina, the deadline to register to vote is October 14, 2016, and in Virginia, the deadline to register to vote is October 17, 2016. If you are already a citizen and you aren't registered, make sure you do so by going to a website like Rock the Vote, where you can register to vote and find out your polling place.
Now let's get to some questions!
Question 1: There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
Answers: (a) citizens 18 and older can vote; (b) a male citizen of any race can vote; (c) you don't have to pay a poll tax to vote; OR (d) any citizen can vote (women and men)
This question has four possible answers, and you only have to provide one of them to get the question correct.
- Answer choice (a) refers to the 26th Amendment, which was ratified in 1971. Prior to this amendment, in most states, only citizens age 21 and older could vote.
- Answer choice (b) refers to the 15th Amendment, which was ratified in 1870. This amendment is known as one of the three "Reconstruction Amendments", which intended to extend all of the liberties of citizenship to slaves freed at the end of the Civil War.
- Answer choice (c) refers to the 24th Amendment, which was a Civil Rights Era reaction to the voting fees imposed in southern states following the Civil War. It was ratified in 1964. After the passage of the 15th Amendment, mentioned above, many states in the South found a way to continue preventing African Americans from voting. They created laws that made voters pay a "poll tax" in order to vote, and this disproportionally affected African Americans.
- Answer choice (d) refers to the 19th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920. The movement that led to women achieving equal voting rights is known as the "Suffragette" movement, which brings us to the next question...
Question 2: What did Susan B. Anthony do?
Answers: fought for women's rights/fought for civil rights
Susan B. Anthony was one of the most famous suffragettes in the United States, and is widely remembered as one of the most important people in the fight for equality between women and men.
Question 3: What is one right only for United States citizens?
Answers: vote in a federal election; run for federal office
Only US citizens are allowed the privilege of voting. So, take advantage of it! If you're already a citizen, make sure you vote! And if you're considering applying for citizenship, keep in mind that this is a fundamental aspect of American democracy that you are missing out on if you choose to maintain permanent resident status.
In addition, only US citizens are allowed to run for federal office, such as Senator or Representative. Keep in mind that in order to run for President of the United States, you have to be a "natural-born" citizen, which means that naturalized citizens (people who apply for and pass the US citizenship test through USCIS) are unable to run for President of the US.
Question 4: What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?
Answers: (a) vote; (b) join a political party; (c) help with a campaign; (d) join a civic group; (e) join a community group; (f) give an elected official your opinion on an issue; (g) call Senators and Representatives; (h) publicly support or oppose an issue or policy; (i) run for office; (j) write to a newspaper
Remember that this question requires you to give two answers, so when you're studying for the test, make sure you memorize any two choices from the above list.
There are so many ways to get involved in our democracy! As you can see from the list above, participating in American democracy and politics is as easy as talking to an elected official about your opinion or publicly supporting an issue or policy. If you decide to call your federal elected officials, you can find the phone numbers for all current Senators here, and the phone numbers for all current Representatives here. Don't be afraid to express your opinion! America was founded on the principle that everyone should be able to have an opinion, and our different opinions make us stronger. There is a reason that freedom of speech is the in the 1st Amendment; it is one of the most important aspects of American culture! So, get out there and make your voice heard!
Question 5: In what month do we vote for President?
In the United States, federal elections occur on the Tuesday immediately after the first Monday in November. This is a bit confusing, because election day is not always the first Tuesday in November. This year, election day is Tuesday, November 8. So, if you're registered, make sure you get out and vote on that day! Or, if you live in North Carolina, remember that you can vote early. The hours and locations for early voting vary by county, so contact your county board of elections for more information. For example, in Surry County, you can begin voting at some locations as early as October 20.
If you have any questions or concerns about the electoral process, a great resource is the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting voting rights.
I hope this post was helpful to those studying for the citizenship test! Remember, voting is one of the most important parts of our democracy, and it's both a right and responsibility that citizens enjoy. So, if you're a citizen already, make sure you register and vote in this year's election!
Please subscribe below to continue learning about the other possible questions on the civics test!
If you're interested in becoming a United States citizen, contact us for a consultation today!