If you live in your RV and permanently travel, this full-time RVers voting guide can make sure you can cast your ballot during election season. Don’t worry if you are on the road when primary or general election ballots get mailed. As long as you can get your mail on the road, you can still vote in the domicile state you call home.
The Full-time RVers Voting Guide for 2022
America is guided by the voice of its people through elections. But the elections system is complex, especially if we are gone when an election happens. The good news is that even full-time RVers can vote in elections. Here’s how you can do it as a nomadic RVer.
Step 1: Choose a Domicile State
A full-time RVer’s domicile state is the location where you officially live. Remember, even full-timers need a place to call home. Your full-time RVer domicile state is the place where you choose to get a driver’s license, process bureaucratic paperwork like your RV registration, and buy full-time RVers health insurance. This is the state where you also register to vote.
Some nomads choose popular full-time RVer domicile states as their “home.”
Some states have a long-time reputation for making life easy as a full-time RVer. South Dakota, Texas, and Florida are the big three. Historically, these states made it easy for anyone, including full-time RVers, to vote by mail. But wherever you decide to domicile, you should always learn absentee voting procedures in the domicile state you call home. Do this before election season.
Step 2: Find Out if You are Already Registered to Vote
Some states like Colorado and California make it super easy for full-time RVers to vote. For instance, when you apply for a driver’s license in certain states, your department of motor vehicles (DMV) also registers you to vote. Every state handles voter registration slightly differently.
Unsure if your DMV registered you to vote? It’s not hard to find out:
- Get your driver’s license
- Go to vote.gov
- Enter your domicile state
- Follow the links to your state’s elections website.
Some state elections websites have a link to find out if you are already registered. Once you begin the registration process, your information appears on their secure website if you are already in the system.
Step 3: Know the deadline to register to vote in your domicile state
Every state has different voter registration (and vote-by-mail) deadlines. Some states require you to register to vote at least 30 days before election day. Others allow you to register in as few as 15 days before an election. Find out your state’s voter registration deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to register, receive your ballot, and return it by mail.
Step 4: Know how your domicile state’s elections board handles absentee ballot requests
As of 2022, eight states make it easy to vote by absentee ballot. They are:
These eight U.S. states conduct elections entirely by mail. All voters automatically get ballots sent to their mailing address. Your only obligation is to get that ballot to you wherever you happen to be.
All other states require voters to apply for absentee ballots with a valid reason. According to the National Conference on State Legislature (NCSL) Voting Outside the Polling Place: Absentee, All-Mail and other Voting at Home Options report:
No-Excuse Absentee Voting: In 34 states and Washington, D.C., any qualified voter may vote an absentee/mail ballot without offering an excuse, and in the remaining states, an excuse is required. Some states offer a permanent absentee ballot list: once a voter asks to be added to the list, s/he will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections.National Conference on State Legislature (NCSL) report 2022
In the NCSL Excuses to Vote table, it shows the 16 states without no-excuse absentee voting allow voters to request an absentee ballot. If the voter is out of their domicile county on election day, that’s all the excuse they need. This is how full-time RVers voting abilities are relatively easy to use during an election season.
Step 5: Learn your state’s vote-by-mail absentee ballot deadlines
The two most important vote-by-mail deadlines you need to know are:
- The deadline to request an absentee ballot
- And the deadline to return your absentee ballot
Your absentee ballot must get mailed to an address that is outside of your domicile county. This proves your intention to be away on election day.
You also need to know where to return the absentee ballot. That can change, depending on how you mail it. If you send it by overnight courier, that address is likely different than if you send it by U.S. mail.
Bonus Tip for Full-time RVers Voting by Mail
This is where many full-time RVers voting abilities go unused. Ask me how I know. I’ve regrettably missed two important elections since starting to full-time RV about 15 years ago. One reason I missed my vote-by-mail opportunity is because I didn’t allow enough time for my absentee ballot to reach me. It didn’t get to my county elections officials on time. Then, during one election I cut it so close I paid $30 to FedEx overnight my ballot. The ballot got returned for an invalid signature! Don’t let that happen to you.
Voting influences everything in our lives, especially as full-time RVers. Your vote can determine where we can legally enjoy free camping, the places where we can store our rigs, and even how nomads must fulfill civic obligations like jury duty. If you want your life as a full-time RVer to be easy breezy, always vote in elections.