Republican congressional candidate Reinier Prijten writes on his campaign website that as a teenager growing up in Holland, he “rejected the anti-American chorus that was popular among European elites” and “became a fan of President Ronald Reagan.”
He decided at age 18 that “he wanted to be an American citizen.” He emigrated to New York, worked as an intern for two Republican U.S. Senators, got an MBA, and worked for a series of financial services firms.
For Prijten, the path to citizenship took him 20 years. He was naturalized in 2009 and voted for the first time in 2010.
But unlike many naturalized citizens, Prijten didn’t place much importance on voting.
According to election records, Prijten missed five of the nine general elections in which he was eligible to vote. He voted in the 2012 New York presidential primary, but not in any other primaries – including the June 2018 New York congressional primary and the September 2018 New York gubernatorial primary.
There is no record of Prijten voting in school board elections while living in New Rochelle, New York.
Records show that Prijten registered to vote in Los Angeles in October 2018 and voted by absentee ballot in the November mid-term election.
Naturalized citizens tend to vote more frequently than voters born in the United States, according to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center.
Never lived in New Jersey
Prijten’s political consultant says the challenger to Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in New Jersey’s 11th district is currently living in California and will relocate to Morristown in May. That will be the first time Prijten has lived in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Globe reached Prijten on his cell phone again this afternoon. The first-time candidate spent three minutes refusing to answer questions, referring all inquiries to his consultant, Jay Townsend.
It is not immediately known whether he will arrive in New Jersey by May 14, the deadline to register to vote in the June 4 primary election.