Are fulltimers being deprived of their right to vote because they don’t have a physical residence address? It seems so, as this fulltime RVer says.
“I felt that they took my right to vote away. It just really sunk home to me,” said Randall Callahan, an RV traveler who’s having trouble voting in the midterm elections, reports Ozarks First.
Callahan may not be able to vote after selling his house and currently living in his RV.
Callahan moved to Springfield back in 2015 and wanted to pay his taxes and cast an early ballot the beginning of this week. He wants to cast his ballot in Greene County, Missouri, but doesn’t currently have a physical address.
“That’s where I resided, that’s where I pay my taxes, that’s where I go to my doctors, that’s my home,” said Callahan.
At the county clerk’s office, employees say his P.O. Box address cannot be used.
“Because of my address not being a physical house or they wanted my RV in Missouri before I could get to vote,” explained Callahan.
“So often times these individuals will use a family member or someone that they can go ahead and have their permanent residence attached to as they continue to go back and forth on their RV,” Greene County clerk Shane Schoeller said.
“If the legislature ever changes that, we’re more than happy to apply that,” Schoeller said. “Right now, this is just one of those unusual cases that we’re hoping that this particular voter is able to find a physical residence and use while they’re traveling throughout the year, that way they can continue to vote here in Greene County.”
Callahan said he wants to tell his story so other travelers can be aware as well.
“You know I’m not the only retired RV-er out there, if it’s happening to me, we just need to come together and fix this thing, you know,” Callahan said, “I’m not trying to get anybody in trouble, I just want to cast my ballot. I want my vote. It might not count, you’re saying, one vote. But that’s my vote.”
In Hawaii, most of us that don’t live in town only have P.O. boxes and that number is on our car registration, insurance, voter ID etc. some only have a electric pole number in the boonies, that they use for everything.
I am Canadian, have a permanent residence (in the boonies) which is served by a community mailbox which makes our address P.O. Box 4……..
It’s never been a problem for voting, but it certainly has for online merchants who won’t ship to P.O. Boxes. I am now “SUITE 356 or UNIT 356) at PackNpost.
As Americans citizens, we are members of a Representative Republic, The USA is a collection of “states” where each state sends representatives to meet at the “federal” level for the purpose of representing the states’ citizens (Congress). When we voted in 2018 we voted, among other local things, to direct our states’ “electors” to vote for a President. As we are often reminded, the President is not elected directly by the people, but by the electors of each state. Practically, there are NO federal elections; all elections (and politics) are local.
Each state has its own requirements for voting, but common to them all is that you must be a resident of that state. For example, you do not get to vote on my property taxes if you are from another state. Same as for my Congressional representatives. Same as for presidential electors. If you were, you would be guilty of the reverse of voter suppression, unauthorized voter addition. By the way, residents of The District of Columbia also have no voting rights in federal issues. DC is not a state.
The problem is, what about those of us who elect to a Gypsy lifestyle? We do not have a virtual 51st state for gypsies. If we did, it might make life easier. But the issue is far more complicated than just voting. What about state services? How about when you apply for a driver’s license and they ask if you are a resident of the state? Which state do you pick? Do you lie? If you claim your son’s residence in, say, New York, do you pay NY taxes?
This takes some thinking. Personally, If I wanted to go full time RVing, I would buy the smallest plot of land I could find in a state with no income taxes and claim that as my residence. Pay the mini property tax, forward mail to wherever, get a driver’s license, register to vote, sign up for absentee voting and smile. At the end of the day, you make your choices and pay the tab when due. 🙂
Escapees does just that for me. I am a resident of a local Escapees park in Florida and have my mail sent through their Texas headquarters.
Voting is fully legal and encouraged by the county auditor for Americas Mailbox members. No games are being played–they simply recognize that the PMB address is BOTH the mailing AND residency address.
Thanks for the explanation, Barb (at Americas Mailbox). 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com
In Washington State you will need a physical address for your drivers license, vehicle registration and to vote. Use a family member’s address as the physical address and a PMB as mailing address. The stat has no problem with the mailing address. The PMB is a commercial address in the state database so you can’t use it either online or in-person to update the address. Not a difficult issue to resolve, just a little planning.
Move your address to one of the services located out of FL. We used the Good Sam mail service when we were fulltiming. We got a letter from the supervisor of elections telling us that we couldn’t use that for voting purposes so they had assigned us the address of the City Hall. Seems they do that for all full timers. They still sent our absentee ballot to our mailing address and accepted our vote. And there’s no state income tax or personal property tax. Good solution from FL. BTW – the Good Sam address is at the other end of the state from Bevard County. Your vote is safe.
ACLU might be of help. Another question I have is what does the state say about requiring you pay taxes but not being allowed to vote? Isn’t that the problem that started the US? Taxation without representation?
Re Voter fraud. I have worked as an official Poll Observer for the last 3 elections. A list of those registered to vote at a specific polling place is available for anyone to review. The list was printed just a couple days before Nov 6. I also confirmed that the system would not allow me to vote twice as I asked if I could vote but after entering my name etc, the system flagged that I had already voted. The problem in some states like ND is their state legislature decided to change the law at the last minute so there wasn’t time for people to get the correct paperwork even though they were allowed to vote in the primary in May.
People who are houseless or mobile have exactly the same duty and responsibility to vote that everyone else has. Clearly this is a solvable issue if America actually wants to solve it. In many countries voting is mandatory (eg Australia, Singapore, Turkey etc) including houseless people, sailors, nomads, mobile workers etc. India has a quarter of the world’s population, many of those voters are both illiterate and lack formal addresses, yet they can all vote and the elections are totally solid & fully audited. What are we going to do to catch up to the rest of the world and become an actual democracy?
One thing to note is don’t always believe the DMV clerk. They are telling you what their supervisor told them and what their supervisor told them, etc. Earlier this year (July 2018), we traveled through Michigan, our state of residency. My driver’s license expires in 2019. I wanted to get my license renewed so we didn’t have to come back, but have always been told they can only issue the license 60 days out. I did my homework. I looked up Michigan laws and found out that I can get a new license 12 months early for ANY reason. So, I went to the DMV, armed with my smartphone holding the Michigan law. Yes, the clerk argued with me and said I can’t get it this early. I showed her my phone, she read the law located on the State website and proceeded to process my paperwork. Ten days later, I had my new license. Look up the laws yourself, you may just teach that clerk something.
I’ve been full-timing since June 2014. Prior to getting on the road, I registered with a PMB in South Dakota (Americas Mailbox). I voted, without problem, by absentee ballot.
The only problem I’ve had is opening a new checking account. The banks require a physical address. No amount of pleading would change their minds.
Choose a different bank. I had no problems at all at Alliant Credit Union.
Texas – Just about 45 days ago now…The laws have changed again.
For a long time now, no one has been able to use a Post Office Box. It is not a residence.
To subvert that, many have opted to get one of those mail box companies or subscribe to an Escapees mailbox. That used to be sufficient.
We wanted to do our duty and vote in the upcoming Mid-Term elections. To do that, we had to change our Driver’s License address.
We arrived at the DMV. Stood in line for a long time. Got to the Clerk. Presented our forms. To that point, no issue. But being inquisitive, I asked the Clerk what happens when we pull out of the current location to begin our travels next year. We live in an RV Park now. We used that address on the form. The Clerk gave us two pieces of advice.
1) According to the law, we have to change our DL’s everytime we move (at a cost of $22. It appears that is one price for freedom). That is just not practical. 1 night in the Walmart parking lot. Another night in a State Campground. Who knows where we will be after that. And many times, we’ll be out of State.
The Clerk advised that in an emergency (a traffic accident), they want to be able to get a hold of someone. It gave us pause…We buy a vacant piece of property for the sake of having a “permanent address”.? When they go there, its empty. How is that even a valid answer? All they want is TAX REVENUE from free-loaders that avert the system. What a corny answer.
The bottom line from the Clerk is that as of 45 days ago, they put all of the Mail Box Service Companies in their database. Anyone presenting that address will be denied a license. It’s just like the PO Box now.
The Clerk’s alternate suggestion…
2) Use the address of a family member. Its not exactly legal, but that way, in case you are caught up in the criminal world (whether you did it or not), they have a way of shaking down your family members for information. But what if you don’t have family members in the State or they have all passed away?
The bottom line here is that the Government wants to know your whereabouts 7/24 and they want to make sure you are paying your fair share of taxes (we did on the Tow Vehicle and RV by the way).
The only good news is that if we are out of State when the registration comes up for renewal, we can renew without having to come back to the State. We can mail it in with the explanation that we are out of State. The expectation is that when you return, you have 5 days to get the Inspection completed. Normally, you have to do that for the Truck and RV BEFORE they renew you.
And to complicate matters worse, there seems to be a rule that one has to be IN-STATE for at 30 days to be considered a resident.
What’s a full timer who enjoys travel supposed to do? We joke, but I guess Full-Timers are legally homeless. Nothing could be further from the truth. We just subscribe to the thought that we are not rats locked up in a cage.
So when it comes time, we’ll invest in a vacant lot in the middle of nowhere. We’ll spend $200-500 or less to get that vacant desert lot which has nothing on it. We’ll due our duty and pay $10-20 in tax on that $500 property every year that we never visit. We’ll still have that mail service to get all of that junk mail we receive but 1 important notification we need per year (almost everything is on line these days). We don’t get bank statements, or anything else by regular mail. We have packages sent directly to UPS, FedEX or the USPS where we’ll pick it up in route.
I was always brought up to believe that we are the UNITED STATES of America. For some things (not all obviously), it doesn’t make sense to have a State standard. Driver’s License’s are just one of them. We are free to travel ANYWHERE in the US. That’s freedom. Why don’t we have a National DL? Don’t use the excuse that the DL fees pay for roads. They can easily build that into property taxes. If you don’t drive, then you still have to pay. There are so many things built into the current tax structure that I never use and still have to pay for anyway. So that is just an excuse…
If it’s about voter fraud, there is no fair answer. And it’s not like its not going on now anyway. Voters can move to any area they want given 30 days to get registered and influence the vote for that area. Granted, most are not likely to do it just for that reason, but given the current environment and corruption, who knows. And they will just find a bunch of last minute ballots that came out of nowhere anyway.
So, who has a suggestion to make it right?
Many of these State laws are based on the Federal Real ID law which require a permanent physical address. Also some of the requirements are also to combat sales tax fraud, and benefit fraud. When I was in the business, I found people collecting workers comp and other benifits using multiple addresses in different states. A few crooks ruin it for the rest. In most States you need a physical address. For full timers picking a campground you frequent as your permantant address may work. Do change of address cards when you change locations.
We have been full timing since 2013. We have the same problem when we went to get our driver’s license. So they make us lie. We use our old address because we know the lady that lives there and she notifies us if we have mail. When we went to get our licenses renewed, the lady was real mean telling us we couldn’t get our license and needed a physical address in case they need to find us. I responded, I’m sure they can find anyone with all the cell phones these days. When I went to the Illinois state fair I always stop by the DMV tent and complain but all they say is it is a Federal law. Perhaps someone can get this law changed so we don’t have to continue to lie. I guess we should write our Federal legislatures but I’m sure they have bigger fish to fry
States that do not comply with real ID risk losing their highway funds. A big stick to force compliance.
Unfortunately, every state is different. We are full-timers and are residents of Michigan. Fortunately, there is a tiny law in place that said we may use our last address as our residency address, even though we no longer physically live there. If Missouri doesn’t have some sort of “homeless” voting law, you might want to think about moving your state of residency. It sounds like there are numerous states which allow “homeless” people to vote. Good luck!
I had a similar problem in Phoenix, AZ. I have used my PMB address for years as my residency address (a mail center not at the post office) but this year it got discovered in an audit. After talking to the Maricopa County Voter folks they determined that as an officially “homeless” person I could use the local Post Office address that served my PMB as my official “physical” home address – similar to what they allow for the homeless that live in the county shelters.
That actually solved the issue for me.
More recently I have adopted the address of the “over 55” RV Park that we have decided to make our regular winter home.
But the Post Office “residence” solution should work for real full timers who don’t return to the same park every year.
FYI my PMB address IS currently accepted (so far) as my official residence for my Drivers License, Taxes, All forms of Insurance, the VA, etc. Been this way for over 20 years.
The one exception (other than now the Voter situation) has been UPS who still refuses to provide delivery notifications for a commercial address.
The Indians that live on reservations in North Dakota don’t have addresses, most don’t even have P.O. Boxes. But people that live there and the mail delivery person knows where everybody on the reservation lives, they are being told they they can’t vote. Being tied to an address makes sense to vote by absentee.
Not knowing Mo law I can only give an opinion based on AL and TN law where I have lived over 30 years. In these two states you can’t use a PO Box for your drivers license, I would imagine it should be similar in MO. That would establish a residential address. He screwed up by telling election officials he didn’t have a sticks and bricks address, but he should show his DL.
There are countless reasons that Randall’s situation is NOT voter suppression. One BIG reason you need a physical address is that ‘votes’ are more than just ‘a vote’. To determine things like local bond issues, county, state and federal elected positions rely on the voter casting a vote for THE representative for THAT voter. Not every ballot contains options for every specific person or district.
Squeakytiki is absolutely right. Randall should have done his homework. There are probably hundreds of thousands of fulltime RVers on the road (if not millions) who vote every election.
Voting has legal implications … and rules. Randall says he USED to live in Springfield. It USED to be home, unless he follows the rules.
It sounds like he didn’t do his homework about this when he made the decision to go full time, or he would have already known that a PO Box isn’t considered an address. I haven’t even hit the road yet and I already know this.
Contact the ACLU in Missouri at https://www.aclu-mo.org because voter suppression is illegal.
I’m not sure this comes under the heading of “voter suppression”. There just doesn’t seem to be a way to vote if you can’t show a physical address. Otherwise, you could vote anywhere you wanted, as many TIMES as you wanted.