Voting Residency Guidelines

Voting residency guidelines for members of the uniformed services and their family members

Foremost, you should keep in mind that Uniformed Service personnel and their family members may not arbitrarily choose which state to declare as their legal voting residence without meeting the state’s residency requirements. The following are basic guidelines to follow in determining residency for military personnel and their family members:

• You must have or had physical presence in the state and simultaneously the intent to remain in or make the state your home or domicile.

• You may only have one legal residence at a time but may change residency each time you are transferred to a new location. You must make a conscious decision to change residency. 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, etc.

• Once residence is changed, you 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 residence elsewhere after entering on active duty. If a military member changes legal residence after entering on 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.

There are general guidelines for determining your legal residency for voting purposes. Consult your legal or JAG officer for specifics.

Voting residency guidelines for overseas citizens

Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the state you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the United States. 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 your 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 on that particular state law.

Voting Assistance Officers at embassies/consulates will assist overseas U.S. citizens in obtaining and completing Federal Post Card Application requests for registration and ballot.