Proof of residency for presidential candidate

This might get bumped to Elections, but I am intending this as a more straightforward query rather than a debate.

The office of President in the US has three constitutional requirements, 1) natural born citizen, 2) over age 35, and 3) a resident of the United States at least 14 years.

You could ostensibly prove your age and citizenship with a birth certificate. Conspiracy theories aside, it is the best and official proof you have of the circumstances of your birth.

What I want to focus on is what would constitute proof of residency for 14 years? In this modern age US citizens living abroad are required to file income tax returns and many I know use a family address in the States. What else might suffice?

On a practical real world level there is no way someone who hasn’t been resident in the USA and active in politics for years would ever get nominated as a major party candidate. Just as an example here is Obama’s political career:

There is basically no chance a US citizen could not be resident in the USA and return to become a serious presidential candidate in a few years.

I’d imagine that showing your passport would be a pretty effective way of “proving” how much time you spent in America*

  • Precluding conspiracy theories like dual nationality or fake passports.

Nope. US citizens living abroad get passports. The US does not stamp an exit stamp when you leave the country. I’ve only ever had my passport stamped with an entry stamp once for each new passport.

Residency does not require your physical presence. Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 although he had spent 1942-45 in England & Germany. Wesley Clark ran in Republican primaries in 2004, despite having spent most of the 1990s in Europe. I’m sure there are other examples, since overseas travel is much more common now than in the 1780s.

I would imagine that tax returns would be sufficient. However, since there is no requirement that a candidate affirmatively prove his eligibility, then as a matter of law it would likely be up to individual states and their election boards to determine how to handle this. But as with the birther movement, the time to raise the challenge would be before the ballot’s are certified.

If one attended school in the US, presumably there would be a record of those years. K-12 plus college knocks out fourteen years right there.

I suppose it’s possible to read the residency requirement as “fourteen years immediately prior to election,” but as has been pointed out, this was not asserted as an objection to Eisenhower or to Thomas Jefferson, who spent five years in France less than fourteen years before being elected.

The legal residence of a person abroad on government business, whether a diplomat or a soldier/sailor/airman, is wherever he was from or moves it to within the US. E.g., If Col. X was born and brought up in Illinois, was stationed at Fort Bragg before being sent into Iraq for three years and moved his legal residence there, his legal residence is Cumberland County, NC, where Fort Bragg is located – despite the fact he may have been in Fallujah or Kirkuk most of the last three years.

As to who has authority to determine this, there are two main theories, and I don’t know if either has force of law: (1) The United States Congress, in counting the electoral votes; or (2) the 50 individual state controllers of electoral ballots, nearly always the State Secretary of State (but with I think a couple of exceptions where there is a State Board of Elections).

Yes, but fourteen years?

President Obama was in the Illinois Senate from 1997-2004, and the US Senate from 2005-2008. That’s only 12 years. It is quite conceivable that someone might become a public figure only ten years before running for president, and then he’d have four years to account for. It could be very simple to account for those four years, but still, I think the OP has a valid question.

Does anybody know the history of this clause? Why 14 years? What was the point?

Receiving countries invariably do stamp your passport, though. Short of residing on a cruise ship, there’s no real way to change your residence and not leave a paper trail.

According to John Jay:

Nope - I’ve landed in London, and walked right out the door of the airport. No stamp acquired. It was kind of disappointing. I wanted a stamp. Actually, I could have gotten one, but I would have had to stand in line to get it.

I raise the point as I have lived overseas most of my adult life, though I did live fourteen years in the US early in my life.

But if I had a son now (with my Colombian spouse), he would obtain US citizenship due to my parentage. And if he was raised in school locally (out of the US, not due to any military or diplomatic posting), he would still have to live at least five years in the US (including 2 years after age 14) in order to be able to pass US citizenship to his children. And 14 years of US residence to legally run for the office of president.

USCIS doesn’t provide good guidance as to what provides proof of residency. School or work records might be evidence of physical presence in the US. Maybe mail, but its not like I hang onto years worth of old letters. And in other respects I started thinking that I’m not sure what would document my day-to-day presence in the States.

On a US passport? Did you go through IRIS?

Nitpick. Unless he has made a legal move to change his residence, he would remain a resident of Illinois. I spent 4 years active duty. Living mostly in Germany and Texas. The entire time my home of record was in New Jersey. Paid state taxes. Voted in local elections.

Cuba notoriously does not stamp American passports. I guess that shows their opinion of the US embargo.

And I know I have I’ve entered and left numerous countries by boat with no passport stamp.

Hoover is probably a better example, as he lived in London for a decade until seven years before he ran for the Presidency. And unlike Eisenhower or Jefferson, who were US employees living in Gov’t provided housing while still maintaining private residencies in the US, he was there as a private citizen and had London as his primary address.

Anecdote time. On a trip to Europe about 10 years ago, I landed in Athens. Made my way to immigration. Checkpoint was there, but no one was manning it. Waited around for a while, then finally walked through.

Spent a week in various EU countries, left through Heathrow. Got hassled by the British immigration officer because I did not have an entry stamp for entering the EU. I explained what happened, he grimaced, muttered “Bloody Greeks”, stamped my passport and let me through.

Got hassled briefly upon entering the States as well.

I have no idea what was going on in Athens. Its never happened since then (flown through Athens many times).

But they were both already residents for 14 years before their military careers. As far as I can tell, neither lived anywhere but the United States for the first 14 years of their lives. Barack Obama is the first president in a while who didn’t tick that box on his 14th birthday.

Valid point, but I did say “and moved his legal residence.”