Your Expat US Child and Them Voting.

votingWell after this election, my son who will be of age to vote next election, just found out that he can not vote. He is an American citizen, was even born in the US, but since he has lived here for all his life in Italy he can not vote. Of course this does depend on the states not the country.

As this author puts it, “The right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution; it is a “gift” of the states. If you move back to any state: problem solved.” 1

Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia. Are all states that allow children born overseas to register using one of their American parents registration address.

My son and I do not fall in one of these states.  So he would have a hard time registering to vote.

For example a state not listed would be the requirements for New Jersey:

  • A United States citizen
  • I am at least 17 years old, and understand that I may not vote until reaching the age of 18.
  • A resident of the county for 30 days before the election
  • You are NOT currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction 2

Technically he was a resident for a year after birth, but that does not count. Now can he reside at Grandmas for 30 prior and still vote? Maybe.  It depends on what they want 30 days before can that mean 30 days in the year of the election? There is no clear definition written for that.  The only thing I find is that if you are homeless, you may complete section of home address by providing a contact point or the location where you spend most of your time. How do they even check this information out? You fill out the form and then mail it into the office.

Of course on the form you do have to declare these things:

  • I am a U.S. Citizen
  • I live at the above address (Yet homeless people can lie and state they live any location they spend time at)
  • I am at least 17 years old, and understand that I may not vote until reaching the age of 18.
  • will have resided in the State and county at least 30 days before the next election
  • I am not on parole, probation or serving a sentence due to a conviction for an indictable offense under any federal or state laws
  • I understand that any false or fraudulent registration may subject me to a fine of up to $15,000,
    imprisonment up to 5 years 2

Again 30 days before, what does that mean: in that year, right before the election, in my lifetime? I registered there many years ago and though I live overseas, I am still able to vote with an absentee ballot. It gets very confusing and seems in the end that the answer is no he can not register to vote.

So where does that put us Expats living and having children overseas. Our children are US citizens, have US passports, Get taxed as a US citizen, but yet we do not have the constitutional right to vote!

References for this post:

  1.  Which American Kids Don’t Have the Right to Vote? Ours! website Association of Americans Resident Overseas
  2.  Voter Registration website State of New Jersey Department of State


Some great links for voters overseas:

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