Monday, August 04, 2008

Full-timing and voting

When you're a full-time RVer as I am and your mailing address is in one state (Texas) and you're living in another state (California), you'll have a problem trying to vote if your driver's license (CA) isn't in the same state as your mail.
I registered my RV in CA because if I and my RV spend more than 180 days in California (which I do), it must be registered here. My registration has the Texas mailing address on it. The RV insurance is based on the Texas mailing address.

My driver's license expires in November one day prior to election day. I wanted an absentee ballot from Texas but the Texas Secretary of State sent a letter stating I must have a Texas driver's license to vote absentee.

I checked on the cost of driving to Texas to get the driver's license: $1200 round trip depending on gas prices in October (no way was I going anywhere near Texas until the weather cooled). At the same time, I could also change the RV registration to Texas after the RV was inspected. I looked around the RV for that spare grand and just couldn't seem to find it.

So I checked the Amtrak website and could get a round-trip ticket to El Paso (closest city in the great state of Texas) for around $500. That was a better option but still expensive just to get a Texas driver's license.

I wondered what would happen if I went to the CA DMV website and changed my mailing address to Texas. What was the worst that could happen? The website could reject it and then I would need to call someone.

Amazingly, the website accepted the address change so now my current CA driver's license has a Texas mailing address. Next step was to call the DMV to find out how and if I could register to vote in CA. A very helpful woman gave me the web address.

I went to the CA Secretary of State website, printed the voter registration form and mailed it. I needed to list the current physical address and county where I'm residing.

My Escapees mail will be forwarded from Texas and I should receive it by Thursday or Friday. In the mail should be the response from CA accepting my voter registration in this state. The next step is to obtain an absentee ballot.

This may seem like a lot of effort just to vote but I take my voting privilege seriously. If a trip to Texas was required, I would have found some way to get there.
Hopefully, that won't be necessary.

2008 Selecting An RV Home Base
For would-be fulltimers, which state to establish an official home base is critical. This book is an essential planning tool.
The fact is, picking the wrong state to establish an official residence could result in spending thousands of dollars a year that could be saved by establishing a home base elsewhere. Learn more or order.


  1. I am a Tennessee resident and a full-timer; My husband and I have LOST our right to vote because we are full-timers. There are not enough of us to fight this as the Escapees in Texas. We are frustrated because ultimately Tennessee probably would have become our permanent home, however, we may need to seek a different domicile where we can vote! It seems that Bradley County TN is concerned about full-timers skewing the vote ... all we want to do is vote in a National election as is our constitutional right ... or so we thought!!

  2. Hi Adrienne

    Your posting caught my eye, and I wanted to share some comments with you and your readers on the issue of establishing and maintaining domicile as a full-time RVer.

    Voting has always been a challenge for full-timers as, regardless of where or how you live, you still must have a legal 'home of record' or domicile. We at Escapees have always encouraged full-timers to put all their "eggs" in one basket when it comes to establishing a legal residency. That means establishing a legal address in one state, getting your driver's license there, registering and titling your vehicles there, and registering to vote there. Full-timers must always meet the requirements of their chosen state in order to vote, and, in some cases, it is necessary to go out of one's way to meet those requirements.

    In your case, you seem to have some of those “eggs” spread between two different states, and that can put you in a legally questionable position. For their own safety, all full-timers need to be aware that it is important that their actions show clear intent to establish and maintain legal residency (domicile) in a single state. Anything that could be interpreted as an attempt to maintain multiple residencies to avoid taxes, avoid paying registration and license fees, or acquire voting rights can land them in treacherous legal waters.

    Mark Nemeth
    Consumer Affairs Dir.
    Escapees RV Club