Voting from abroad
May 16, 2008 10:32 AM   Subscribe

I have U.S. citizenship but have never resided in the states. My mother was from Illinois. Is it possible for me to vote in the presidential election?

I checked Absentee Voting Assistance page on Illinois, and I didn't see anything that really pertained to my specific situation, only that of people that had resided in Illinois before. Obviously I've never registered to vote or anything, nor do I have any kind of address in the U.S.

Any ideas appreciated.
posted by glip to Law & Government (12 answers total)
posted by awesomebrad at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2008

(And in case you miss it on the page, use your parents' address).
posted by awesomebrad at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2008

I don't think that web site means what you think it means.

To vote you have to establish residency in one of the states. Being a citizen of the US isn't enough; you have to become a citizen of a state, and that can only be done by living there for a period of time. (The period varies depending on the state.)

If you've never resided in the US, you can't register, and that means you can't vote. Legally speaking.

Of course, if you want to break the law, then that changes things entirely. But don't do that, please.
posted by Class Goat at 11:44 AM on May 16, 2008

Read the instructions, goat.
posted by alexei at 11:48 AM on May 16, 2008

I'm not in a place now where I can Google for the cite, but my personal experience (from the 90's admittedly) is that you can vote in the General election in November by showing your US passport at the embassy.

In any case, your friendly local US Embassy should be able to easily walk you through what will be involved.
posted by anastasiav at 11:52 AM on May 16, 2008

Alexei, I did. I stand by my answer.

"If you never lived in the US, you may be able to vote using the address where your American parent(s) last lived." I don't think they're talking about a case like this one.
posted by Class Goat at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2008

Your profile says you're in Kitchener; depending on how important it is to you that you be able to vote, you could try moving to Buffalo or Detroit for the summer, then move back. This could wreak absolute havoc with your taxes (but you may have to file with the IRS anyway, living in Canada full-time).
posted by oaf at 12:38 PM on May 16, 2008

despite living in Canada full-time
posted by oaf at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2008

This could wreak absolute havoc with your taxes (but you may have to file with the IRS anyway, living in Canada full-time).

Don't overlook this. Since the US has a policy of taxing all of its citizens regardless of their country of residence, in the worst case the IRS may decide that you owe them years of back taxes.

I dont know the details of your situation, but if you have not been paying taxes, registering to vote may put you on their radar for the first time.
posted by vacapinta at 1:30 PM on May 16, 2008

By the way, if you're just worried about voting for Obama, don't worry because he'll carry Illinois over McCain regardless.
posted by MrZero at 3:44 PM on May 16, 2008

Thanks for the tax info, I'd have not considered that one at all.
posted by glip at 6:56 AM on May 17, 2008

Dear People,

There is misinformation like this all over the Web, and I would like to try to set the record straight.

(1) If you are a citizen of the U.S.., YOU MAY VOTE IN A FEDERAL ELECTION, even if you have NEVER lived in the States.

(2) If you only vote in FEDERAL elections (that is, for President, Senator and Representative) you will NOT SUFFER ANY TAX CONSEQUENCES!

Democrats Abroad Netherlands addresses these 'myths' on their site.

Myth #1: "I can't vote. I don't have a US address anymore."

WRONG. Regardless how long you have lived outside the country, you always retain the right to vote in US Federal elections. Your legal voting address is the last place you resided prior to departing the US. (If you have never lived in the US, many states will allow you to vote using the legal voting address of one of your American parents. Check with local authorities.)

Myth #5: "If I vote, the IRS will hassle me."

WRONG. Voting in US Federal elections does not affect the determination of tax residence. You will not hear from the IRS because you voted in a Federal election. (Note: Voting in state and local elections can potentially affect state and local tax status. We recommend that you seek expert advice before voting in state or local elections.)
posted by LMorland at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2008

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