An acquintance of mine is in an interesting situation. This person is a student in America, but their primary residence, personal upbringing, and national identity belong to another country. However, they happen to be an American citizen because they were physically born here.

Assuming I have my facts straight, this means that a lot of complications that normally surround immigration to America are not relevant to this person. Does this include voting? Can this person register to vote (and then do so) with no more stringent a process than full-time Americans would go through? If this person were to leave America after they graduate (but maintain their citizenship), from which address could they maintain voter registration?

2 Answers 2


Yes, so long as you are still a US citizen, it does not matter if you no longer maintain residence in the United States. If you no longer have any sort of residence that can be claimed as a current residence, you simply register at whatever the last residence you used was when you lived in the United States (even if someone else lives there now). You would then have an absentee ballot mailed to you overseas.

However, if you don't maintain any sort of residence in the United States, you will only be eligible to vote for federal offices (president, senate, house). You won't be allowed to vote in state or local elections.

The keywords you'll need for voting are:

  • UOCAVA, which is a program that allows for easier voting overseas (in some cases the ballot can actually be emailed to you and you are only responsible for printing it out, filling it out, and mailing it back).
  • FPCA, which is the form you fill out. It actually doubles as a registration and an absentee ballot request, so you only have to fill out one form. The absentee request is good for all elections in the calendar year it is submitted, so you only have to fill it out once for both the primary and the general.
  • "even if someone else lives there": not really. You don't register to vote at your former address; you register as an overseas voter with your state of most recent residence, but you use your current overseas address.
    – phoog
    Feb 26, 2018 at 2:45
  • @phoog That's not how it works. To be registered to vote, the system must have a valid address within that county's jurisdiction. They'd simply record the overseas address as the mailing address and that's where all your correspondence would go. There's no such thing as just being registered with the state with an overseas address only.
    – animuson
    Feb 26, 2018 at 2:59
  • Well I certainly don't remember giving a US address when I registered as an overseas voter, but it was a long time ago, so I don't remember that clearly. What about people who never lived in the US? Many states allow them to vote if their parents were last domiciled in that state. If they don't know their parents' former address, are they out of luck?
    – phoog
    Feb 26, 2018 at 3:17
  • @phoog If you were registered there before, they can usually find what your previous address was. And yes you would need to know your parent's address, but again, they can probably help you find it if you have other information about your parents. But your previous address is their way of verifying that you at one point had some sort of tie to that state, and aren't just choosing a random state to register at.
    – animuson
    Feb 26, 2018 at 3:20

If they are a resident of one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia they are allowed to vote.

  • 3
    ....completely missing the point. Completely missing the point. And missing relevant law.
    – Stackstuck
    Feb 26, 2018 at 9:50

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