Voting Residency Guidelines
Members of the Uniformed Services and Their Eligible Family Members
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 requirement. The following are basic guidelines to follow in determining voting residency:
- In most States the legal voting residence is defined as where the citizen has, or has had, physical presence at the location and where there is the intent to remain or return.
- 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 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.
- Family members of active duty military personnel may have a different legal residence. A spouse does not automatically assume the legal residence of the active duty member upon marriage. Minors typically assume the legal residence of either parent, and 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.
- "Home of Record" is the address of a military member at the time of joining a particular Service. Your "Home of Record" may or may not be the same as your legal voting residence. You can choose to maintain your legal voting residence at your "Home of Record" throughout your military career or you may establish a legal voting residence in a State other than your "Home of Record".
- Voting in an election for Federal offices 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. Consult your legal counsel for specific questions or situations.
- If a citizen is uncertain about his or her current legal voting residence, the citizen should examine his or her connections or ties to the State or territory in question and consult with legal counsel.
Learn the process before you start! FVAP has created training to help you understand the absentee voting process, complete your absentee ballot request and successfully cast your absentee ballot. Below are self-guided training slides in Adobe and PowerPoint formats. Don't have these programs? Download them here: Microsoft's website for PowerPoint; or get Adobe Reader.
Military Voting Workshops
- Military Voter Training (Adobe Acrobat)
- Military Voter Training (Microsoft PowerPoint)
- More information about elections and officials