Legal Residency Requirements

Definition of legal residency has been established by court cases and Division of Elections’ opinions and is as follows:

  • Residency is the county jurisdiction to which a person mentally intends his or her permanent residency to be and that can be factually supported. Factual evidence that would be supportive of that intent includes but is not limited to, a Driver license, tax receipts, bills of residency (electricity, water, garbage service), receipt of mail, homestead property, declaration of domicile, and other activities indicative or normally associated with home life.
  • Once a person has established residency for voting purposes, that residency is considered permanent, absent evidence of other activities indicating that a person is changing his or her residency.

Applicants can be convicted of a felony of the third degree and fined up to $5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years, if information on the application is not true. This includes falsifying legal residency.

Military Voting Legal Residency Guidelines

  • You must have or had physical presence in the state and simultaneously the intent to remain or make the state your home or domicile.
  • 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; it cannot be done accidentally. Certain specific actions that may be interpreted as conscious decisions, e.g. registering to vote, registering a car and 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.

“Home of Record” is not to be confused with legal residence. “Home of Record” is the address a military member had upon entry into the Service. It does not change. “Home of Record” and legal residence may be the same address and it can remain so even though the person or his/her relatives no longer live at the location, as long as the military member has not established a residence elsewhere after entering on active duty. To revert to claiming the “Home of Record” as legal residence he/she must re-establish physical presence and intent to remain in or return to the state.

Family members of active duty military personnel may each have a different legal residence. A spouse does not automatically assume the legal residence of the active duty member upon marriage. The spouse must meet the physical presence and intent to remain or return criteria. 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.

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.

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