Are you an American born abroad – a US citizen despite the fact that you never lived in the US? And does that mean you can cast a ballot in US elections? The answer is yes for some of you, and no, for others. How can that be?
A new policy brief from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) clarifies how state laws affect the voting eligibility of Americans who were born abroad but have never resided in the United States. FVAP refers to members of this unique group as “never resided” voters. In 2016, they seem to have become a vocal group – voicing their complaints in writing to the FVAP, the Pentagon agency whose mission it is to implement the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
A key factor for determining an overseas citizens’ voting eligibility is whether they meet the residency requirements of the state in which they are seeking to vote. For a “never resided” voter, their “Voting Address” is determined by their parent’s last address in the US. If their parents are from two different states, then the “never resided” voter can choose in which state they wish to vote. Imagine the decision if one parent’s last address was in Nevada and the other’s in Florida. FVAP exposes that in this case, the decision is actually made for the voter, because Nevada accepts a “never resided” voter, and Florida does not.