Full-time RVers must claim a domicile even if they travel full-time and don't really consider any particular state home. They have to register their vehicles and have an address for their federal tax return.
Domicile differs from residence. A domicile is your "home" or place you intend to come back to; you can be a resident of many places. Each time you travel through a state, you are temporarily residing there. Your domicile is your tax home, the place you use to register your vehicles, have your will, etc. (They are all in one state, aren't they?) The Escapees RV Club has an excellent brochure on the subject of domicile, "How to Be a Real Texan," that explains you need to do certain things to actually make a state your domicile. If you don't, another state may say you owe them taxes. I recommend reading it.0
How does your domicile affect voting? It could mean you don't vote.
Voting rights challenged
Being a full-time RVer without property can be an issue when it comes time to vote. Elected officials in Polk County, where Escapees is headquartered, did not want RVers who use their mail forwarding service to vote because they realized that voting Escapees could easily swing an election. Escapees fought for the right to vote and won. I was registered there for years. I did not vote in local elections because I did not have the knowlege but was able to get an absentee ballot to vote in national elections while on the road. I am now domiciled in South Dakota with George, using Alternative Resources for our mail forwarding. We have just sent in our request for an absentee ballot.
Full-time RVers who claim some other states as their domicile are not so lucky. Back in February, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Bradley County (TN) officials who dropped 286 RV owners from the rolls in 2006 did not violate their right to vote or their right to travel. See the entry, "Tennessee full-time RVers are disenfranchised."
The three full-time RVers in Cincinnati, TN who brought suit just got their voting rights restored after being dropped from the rolls. According to News Channel 9 in TN, "The American Civil Liberties Union said in a released statement Wednesday it's negotiated a deal with the Bradley County Election Commission that renews RVers Ron and Leone Teel's and Tom Layton's, originally from Cleveland, ability to vote."
The three RVers' address is the parking lot of a mail forwarding service. This agreement doesn't affect other 283 RVers who may be disenfranchised.
When I originally saw the news item I thought it was referring to a case in Cincinnati, OH. I was wrong. However, I did hear from an FMCA member who said he was not allowed to register to vote in OH since his only OH address was FMCA's mail forwarding service in Cincinnati, OH. I hope FMCA will take up the case.
Elections are important so I hope you are registered to vote and vote at least for the candidates at the national level no matter where you are in your travels. If you are thinking about becoming a full-time RVer or are in a state where you cannot vote, consider choosing a state where you can exercise your right to vote. Make voting part of your decision-making when choosing a domicile.
What is the saying? "Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don't vote." Jaimie Hall Bruzenak