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UMaine UVote - Voter Requirements

What are the requirements to register to vote in Maine?

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Have established and maintain a residence in the municipality where the person intends to register to vote
  • Be at least 17 years of age (must be 18 years old to vote)

See Title 21-A, Maine Law on Elections, section 111.

How is voting residence determined?

Residence is that place where the person has established a fixed and principal home to which the person, whenever temporarily absent, intends to return.

  • Under this definition, residence is something that a person establishes, not something a person chooses.

  • While the definition includes the person’s “intent to return” to a residence, it makes it clear that the residence must in fact exist, and the person must have established it as a fixed and principal home.

  • The law does not define “fixed” or “principal” or “home”.

  • In most cases, a person has only one place where he or she resides, making residency an easy factor for the registrar to determine. However, determining residency becomes more difficult when a person owns or rents a dwelling in more than one municipality.

  • The registrar may consider the following factors (as set forth in section 112) in determining whether a person has established and maintains a voting residence in the municipality:

    • A direct statement of intention by the person pursuant to section 121.1 (an “oath”);
    • The location of any dwelling currently occupied by the person;
    • The place where any motor vehicle owned by the person is registered;
    • The residence address, not a post office box, shown on a current income tax return;
    • The residence address, not a post office box, where the person receives mail;
    • The residence address, not a post office box, shown on any motor vehicle operator’s license the person holds;
    • The receipt of any public benefit conditioned upon residency, defined substantially as provided in this subsection; or
    • Any other objective facts tending to indicate a person’s place of residence.

  • No one may register to vote in more than one place at the same time. When completing a voter registration application, the voter must provide an address for previous registration, or if never registered to vote in another jurisdiction, must write “none” in the space provided.

Are there special residency requirements for students, military personnel, incarcerated persons, and citizens living outside the United States?

Students:

Students have the right to register in the municipality where they attend school, if they have established residency there. Students must meet the same residency requirements as all other potential voters, but may not be asked to meet any additional requirements.

Students who are not residents of the municipality in which they attend school cannot register in that municipality. Students must determine where they have established residency and register to vote there. If residency is determined to be in another municipality or state, absentee voting is possible and encouraged.

The following items should be kept in mind when determining residency for a college student:

  • A person does not gain or lose a residence solely because of the person’s presence or absence while a student in any institution of learning. This may not be construed to prevent a student at any institution of learning from qualifying as a voter in the municipality where the student resides while attending that institution [Title 21-A, §112.7]

  • When registering students, the registrar must make the determination of residency as he or she would for any potential voter.

  • A student may have only one residence at any one time.

  • If a student has established residency in another municipality or State for any reason, and if the circumstances have not changed, the other jurisdiction may be the legal residence where the student should be registered to vote.

Military Personnel:

A person does not gain or lose a residence solely because of the person’s presence or absence while employed in the Armed Forces of the United States or of this State [Title 21-A, §112.7 and Article II, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution].

A member of the Armed Forces may register or enroll at any time by completing and filing the federal postcard application form or the Maine voter registration form, or by registering in person using a form provided by the registrar.

A spouse of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty may have the same voting residence as that person’s spouse.

A member of the Armed Forces shall not be considered as having obtained an established residence, however, by being stationed in any garrison, barrack or military place, in any city, town or plantation [Article II, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution].

Incarcerated persons:

The residence of a person incarcerated in a correctional facility or in a county jail does not include the municipality where a person is incarcerated unless the person had resided in that municipality prior to incarceration.

A person incarcerated in a correctional facility may apply to register to vote in any municipality where that person has previously established a fixed and principal home to which the person intends to return [Title 21-A, §112.14].


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