Can I Vote Without a Permanent Address?
Jeremiah Murrell is living many people’s dream - he thoughtfully navigates the world to explore life without setting down roots. Jeremiah will show Americans that YES, you are eligible to vote without a maintaining an ongoing residence.
Voting Without a Permanent Address
There are many reasons why a citizen might not have a fixed address. They may be in transition, unable to secure housing, traveling for long stretches of time, or working remotely while on the road.
If one of these situations applies to you, you may be wondering: Are you eligible to vote if you don’t have a fixed address? Yes, you may be eligible to request an absentee ballot to vote in federal elections if you don’t maintain a home of record.
Meet Jeremiah Murrell - Citizen Traveler
Jeremiah Murrell graduated from Rice University (Class of 2020) in Houston, Texas, where his friends described him as a cultural nomad and perpetual explorer. Instead of planning where to settle down after college, Jeremiah was more likely to be contemplating his next immersive destination.
In his conversation with U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote), Jeremiah demonstrates how to be a citizen traveler, as well as how to vote and navigate the intricacies of state-specific voting methods while roaming the planet.
Are you aware of how or why you first developed wanderlust? What inspires you to travel?
I’ve been a wandering soul for about as long as I can remember. My earliest memories as a child are of traveling.
My family moved from state to state and city to city an abundance of times before I reached my adolescent years, and then even a few more times after that.
Over time, as I developed an affinity for discovering new environments, I’ve become more aware of my own innate desires to travel as being a means of expanding my mental horizons just as much, if not more, as my cultural and physical horizons.
There’s an answer to every question if you look hard enough for it, and I have come to enjoy the endless search and adventure.
What are some of the places you have explored over the last few years that stand out to you?
While others may have found that their ability (or willingness) to travel in recent years has been in decline, I made every effort to ensure that no global crisis would prevent me from seeking new shores and continuing to learn from each new experience.
In the summer of 2021, I spent a few months knee-deep in wonder and awe while exploring the rich history in the countries of Greece and Georgia.
In 2022, I found myself confronting the duality of Mexico while spending some time along the northeast coast of the Yucatán.
In truth, just about every single place I visit stands out to me in some way or another. Even my more recent travels in the States, from Neptune Beach, FL to Phoenix, AZ, have been sources of great personal growth and transformation that l will carry with me for years to come.
Do you make an intentional effort to establish or maintain a sense of civic connection as you come in and out of different communities? Or is your travel more about individual exploration?
The impetus for my travel almost always starts with individual exploration.
I prefer to allow the civic character of a community to reveal itself to me, instead of actively seeking out the spaces in which I know I would be most comfortable. I enjoy this approach as it allows me to “take the pulse” of an area via day-to-day exchanges with the locals.
In this manner, the most pressing issues in a community are easily discovered and, given enough time between visits, the energy and character of a community can vary immensely.
What forms of political participation have you witnessed in your travels?
It’s no secret that we are all currently in the midst of a politically significant time for countries all across the world. People on all sides, with all kinds of ideologies, are making their voices heard at this very moment.
I was on the ground in Athens while some parts of the city were empty as there were groups on strike in protest of the newest labor reforms, and other parts of the city were full of people in the streets protesting vaccination policies.
I was in Tbilisi when citizens took to the streets against the Tbilisi Pride Parade and made their voices and opinions heard loud and clear.
Many of the demonstrations I witnessed parallel those I saw in the United States during the tumultuous summer of 2020.
All over the world the stakes are increasing. No matter what you believe to be true, the political struggles of the present times will ultimately affect all of us.
Has your exposure to other political systems prompted you to reflect on your role as a citizen of a representative democracy in a federal system?
I will say this: the more that I am exposed to differing political systems from the American democracy that I was raised with, the more trouble I have identifying any benefits that I enjoy as a citizen of the United States.
Certainly things could be worse, without a doubt, however, I would argue that the state of American democracy could also be drastically improved and, while the American citizens have been granted a role to play in pushing our political system back onto the path of efficiency and effectiveness, in my estimation there is a need for all parties involved in our political process to evaluate and determine if our system still makes the most sense for a country of more than 300 million people.
Our founding fathers did well to give our political system and its representatives the means by which to update our Constitution and government institutions whenever the need presented itself. Judging from the rising political tensions in the country, I would say that it is in our best interest to ensure that our political system is still serving the interests of the people and, if not, that we do our part to help right the ship.
If you decide to participate in elections when you pack your bags for a long stretch overseas, your right to vote travels with you for federal elections. You keep this right even if you don’t maintain a home of record in the States. You can re-register and apply for an absentee ballot in one step. In this process, you notify the government of your previous voting residence, even if you are uncertain whether you intend to return to that state.
In your case, Jeremiah, how would that work? In which state would you have your most recent voting residence?
I believe my previous voting residence is still in the great state of Texas, so I would be notifying the Texas state government to apply for an absentee ballot.
Now let’s say that instead of going abroad, you decide to travel to another state or territory within the United States.
In that case, you can check how long you’d need to live there to register to vote in this new location to get started. Then see whether that state requires that you intend to establish a permanent residence to vote for state level offices.
Can you foresee yourself relocating before the 2024 election?
In my case, it is just about a guaranteed certainty that I will find myself in yet another state, if not another country, before the 2024 election period rolls around.
Sounds as though this how to vote guide could come in handy for you!
Jeremiah, let's close with any advice or insight you would like to share with others who might want to go on an extended journey to new locations?
Trust your intuition and don’t let fear rob you of a good time. More often than not, people choose to visit new locations because they are looking for new experiences.
If you find yourself in a new environment but still afraid to leave your comfort zone, you’ll discover that the greatest journey any of us ever take happens within, and happens when you leave that comfort zone behind for good. That’s when the real adventure begins.
Mobile voters like Jeremiah can be on the road in voter mode. As a free-range voter, having a US Vote Voter Account could help Jeremiah get set up to vote from any location. These secure, private accounts store your voter information so you can quickly generate an absentee ballot request form or easily register to vote in a new location. You can stay on top of any changes to voting laws and sign up for reminders about election dates and deadlines. US Vote helps citizens stay safely and reliably connected, wherever they are.