Is there a special Elector for ex-patriot votes?

There are a lot of Americans who have their primary residence overseas. Where does their presidential vote get counted? Can ex-patriots in places like Europe choose a state to register in? Can they only vote in Federal elections?

What about people who live in U.S. territories? During the presidential election all the focus seems to be on this swing state and that state, never any territory or such. I never hear about presidential candidates travelling to Puerto Rico, for example - and that island has more than 3 million people. By comparison, Missouri has 5 million + and you always hear about Missouri.

Expatriates (note spelling) are permitted to vote in federal elections, but only by registering at their last US address. I’m not sure about state elections - that might be up to the states themselves to decide.

Puerto Ricans do not have a vote in federal elections.

As an expartriate for the last 12 years, I have voted in every presidential election from the place of my last residence/registration, which was Washington D.C. It is possible to also vote by absentee ballot in state and local elections; however, this may make one liable to pay taxes in those jurisdictions.

The only non-state to have federal electors is the District of Columbia, which receives three, the same as the minimum number for states. U.S. territories and possessions do not have any federal electors.

An expatriate is someone who does not live in his home country (patria) any more. An ex-patriot is someone who used to be a strong supporter of his country but stopped – or, I suppose, a football player whom New England traded away.

But someone who has their legal residence in London or Paris or Montserrat has no right to vote in Presidential elections, because they are not a resident of either one of the 50 states or D.C. (and, by extension, no state or local elections in the U.S. either).

However, many people may have permanent occupancy of a given overseas dwelling but maintain a legal residence somewhere in the U.S., for a number of purposes of which voting is one small element. By parallel, attendance at college or military service does not automatically change one’s residence – your domicile and therefore your right to vote remains in your home town until and unless you yourself intentionally and purposefully change it to your new place of residence. Likewise, an international banker may have been in Paris for the last 20 years for business purposes, but own or lease a pied-à-terre in Chevy Chase and religiously vote in Maryland elections.

That would be an ex-Patriot. :slight_smile:

To elaborate a little, the crux hangs on the two terms “domicile” and “residence.” You can have many residences, but only one domicile at any given time, which is your permanent home unless you change it (there’s a paradox there somewhere). I used to live in Prague for about two years and had a residence there, but my domicile was still in Texas.

How quickly everyone seems to have forgotten the Drew Bledsoe Voting Rights Act of 2003. If you ask me, Drew got screwed on that one.

It is not necessary to maintain a legal residence, in the sense of owning or renting a dwelling, in order vote in U.S. presidential elections. My only legal residence (for tax purposes, at any rate) is Panama. I do not own or rent any legal residence in the United States. However, I am still entitled to vote in presidential elections from my last place of residence, D.C. I believe, however, that I would have to have a physical legal residence in a particular state in order to vote in state elections.

I opened a thread in GQ last year to specifically ask about this, but I haven’t been been able to turn it up on searching.

How about this one?
As a U.S. expatriate, what state am I a citizen of, if any?

My apologies for the misspelling :smack: how embarassing! I must have been tired when I posted.

This is incorrect if you meant it as a factual statement rather than as an opinion. A news item about expatriates voting in record numbers prompted my original post.

I know someone who votes in U.S. elections living in Europe. They have no property in the U.S. and haven’t lived here for 30 or more years. The state must send them a ballot at their European residence. I’m wondering if they are stuck with the state they last had a residence in. I guess the answer is “yes”.

This opens up another question though. I think it’s kind of unfair that someone in a U.S. territory or Puerto Rico as U.S. citizens are not allowed to vote in Presidential elections, yet someone who is a permanent expatriate in another country is allowed to vote. So can a Puerto Rican move to a state, register there, and then move back to Puerto Rico and vote via absentee ballot? Their residence would be now in a U.S. territory but not a state. Also, what system prevents people from registering in more than one state?

If you’re somebody like I was, an expat who still had a domicile in the United States, you can vote under your state’s regular absentee voting procedures for both federal and state elections. Somebody like Colibri, though, would vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen’s Voting Act, or UOCAVA. The act allows U.S. citizens with no property in the U.S. to vote in federal elections by registering in the state in which they last resided, even if they may not intend to return.

Voting Residency Guidelines for UOCAVA Citizens

What’s unfair about it? Expats are subject to federal taxes, territorial residents aren’t. Why should they have a vote and us not?

Yes, that’s it. There’s quite a bit of information on expatriates and voting rights there.

Because those territories are administered by and are subject to the laws of the U.S. The people in those territories have no representation. One could argue the people in those places are more affected by the decisions of our gov’t than by those who live and work in another country.

The ability to vote is not connected to the obligation to pay taxes. Lots of people don’t pay taxes for one reason or another but they still are allowed to vote.

I’m not saying that you as an expatriate shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I’m asking why someone who lives in a U.S. administered territory who is a citizen doesn’t have the same right as someone who lives in another country. That’s what doesn’t seem quite fair. They are both citizens, why the denial of rights to one group?