An American who moves abroad maintains the status he had when he lived in the homeland. So a New Yorker who moves to Canada still can vote for his congressman, senator and the nation's president. (Quite exceptionally, the former New Yorker is also responsible to continue filing his state and federal tax returns but that's a separate issue)

Puerto Rican residents are usually US citizens but do not have the right to vote for representation in Washington, including not being able to vote for president.

So the question arises, what happens when a Puerto Rican moves abroad? Does he acquire the right to vote? Can it be that the former New Yorker and former Puerto Rican find themselves as neighbors in Vancouver, but one is eligible to vote for US president and one isn't?

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    A former New Yorker does not have to file state income tax returns for periods where there is no income connected with New York.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2020 at 3:06

1 Answer 1


A US citizen who resides abroad can register to vote in federal elections in the last state or territory where they resided in the US. So in your example, the US citizen who was resident in Puerto Rico, and who moves to Canada without first residing in any other state or territory, would register to vote in Puerto Rico. Since he is registered to vote in Puerto Rico, he does not vote in an election for choosing presidential electors since Puerto Rico doesn't have any presidential electors. Only the 50 states and DC have presidential electors, and each of them chooses the electors based on elections by people registered to vote in that state (or DC), so he would have to be registered to vote in some particular state or in DC to participate in an election for choosing presidential electors, but he does not qualify to register to vote in any of the states or DC, because he was not resident there last.

Yes, US citizens who are neighbors in Vancouver, Canada, one of whom is a former New Yorker and the other of whom is a former Puerto Rican, would be registered to vote in two places (one in New York and the other in Puerto Rico). They would get two different ballots, and may even have different dates for elections (for elections that are not held on the November election day). They would have different offices to vote for, and, in the case of the ballot for the November election in a presidential election year, the New York ballot would contain an election for a slate of presidential electors, while the Puerto Rico ballot would not.

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    Similarly, the former resident of New York would be represented in congress by a voting member of the House of Representatives and two senators, while the former resident of Puerto Rico would be represented by a nonvoting member of the House and no senators.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2020 at 9:33
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    @phoog What happens in a case where a born New Yorker moves to Puerto Rico, lives there for a few years and then moves directly to Vancouver? Jul 20, 2020 at 10:08
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    @MarkJohnson in that case the voter registers in Puerto Rico.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2020 at 13:04

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