Voting Residency Guidelines for
Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) Citizens
Uniformed Services & Family Members
Uniformed Services personnel and their family members may not arbitrarily choose which state to declare as their legal voting residence without meeting the state's residency requirement. The following are basic guidelines for military personnel and their family members:
One must have or have had physical presence in the state and simultaneously the intent to remain or make the state his/her home or domicile.
One may only have one legal residence at a time, but may change residency each time he or she is transferred to a new location. One must make a conscious decision to change residency; it cannot be done arbitrarily. There must be certain specific actions which may be interpreted as conscious decisions, e.g. registering to vote, registering a car, qualifying for in-state tuition, obtaining a driver's license, et.
Once residence is changed, a person may not revert to the previous residence without re-establishing new physical presence and intent to remain or return.
"Home of Record" should not be confused with legal residence. "Home of Record" is the address a military member had upon entry into the Service, It does not change. "Home of Record" and legal residence may be the same address, and usually are, when a person enters military service. It can remain so even though the person or his/her relatives no longer live at that location, as long as the military member has not established a legal residence elsewhere after entering active duty. If a military member changes legal residence after entering active duty, he/she may not revert to claiming the "Home of Record" as legal residence without re-establishing physical presence and intent to remain in or return to that state.
Family members of active duty military personnel may each have a different legal residence. A spouse does not automatically assume the legal residence of the active duty member upon marriage. The spouse must meet the physical presence and intent to remain or return criteria. Minors typically assume the legal residence of either parent when they become 18. They also have the option of establishing their own legal residence which can be different from either parent, assuming they have met the guidelines of physical presence and intent to remain or return.
These are general guidelines for determining legal residency for voting purposes. Citizens should consult their legal or JAG officer for specifics.
Overseas Civilian Citizens
The following are voting residency requirements for citizens residing outside the U.S. The "legal state of residence" for voting purposes is the state in which the citizen last resided immediately prior to his or her departure from the U.S. This right extends to overseas citizens even though they may no longer own property or have other ties to their last state of residence and their intent to return to that state may be uncertain.
Keep in mind that exercising one's right to vote in elections for Federal offices only does not affect the determination of residence or domicile for purposes of any tax imposed under Federal, state or local law. Voting in an election for Federal office only may not be used as the sole basis to determine residency for the purposes of imposing state and local taxes. If you claim a particular state as your residence and have other ties with that state in addition to voting, then you may be liable for state and local taxation, depending upon that particular state law.
Voting Assistance Officers at Embassies/Consulates will assist overseas U.S. citizens in obtaining and completing Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) requests for registration and absentee ballots; witnessing or notarizing FPCA forms (if required); and, providing other absentee voting information as needed.
Embassy/Consulate locations may serve also as postage-free mailing points for FPCA forms and other election materials to be mailed back to your local voting jurisdiction in the U.S. where absentee registration and ballot requests are actually processed. Organizations of American citizens overseas such as Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad, etc., and overseas corporations having the voting materials necessary to assist citizens in requesting registration and ballots.
Always, when completing the FPCA, be sure to consult the appropriate state section in Chapter Three of the 2008-09 Voting Assistance Guide and complete the residence section of the form by entering the complete street address of your last residence in that state, including your street or rural route and number. If using a rural route number, include specific information on the location of residence.
Your right to vote in your state and determination of voting
precinct depend on your physical residence while you were within that state.
Only 15 states to date, provide exemption to the physical presence law for
UOCAVA citizens overseas. These states allow eligible U.S. citizens who
have never resided in the U.S. to register and vote where a parent would be
eligible to vote. Refer to "State by State Instructions" at
www.fvap.gov for specific information.
[printed from February 2008 issue. Vol. 18, No. 2 of Voting Information News]
Free Telephone Numbers from Overseas
These are toll-free telephone numbers from the countries listed to the Federal Voting Assistance Program offices in Washington, D.C. When local assistance is unavailable, please call the FVAP. the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands share one set of toll-free numbers: Phone: 1-800-438-8683 Fax: 1-800-368-8683