Laws/Regulations

 Voting & Dual Residency

D. Scott Demmin

Do you own multiple properties?
Do you pay property tax without the ability to vote in local elections?

You should be aware of an official change in the way New York State interprets the law regarding dual residency and voting registration. The statute of �residence�, as required for voter registration, no longer requires that an individual has more significant contact to one location over another. The new interpretation of the Election Law explicitly states that it does not preclude a person from having two residences and simply choosing one for election purposes.

What does this mean?

It means that New York courts have held that individuals are not compelled to establish one home over another as their principal, permanent or primary residence to satisfy registration legitimacy. It is clear that one can choose between them irregardless of one's declaration of primary residence for tax purposes. We confirmed this with our local election board and the New York State election board. As long as there is no fraudulent or deceptive motive, individuals having two residences may choose one to which they have �legitimate, significant and continuing attachment� as their residence for purposes of the Election Law. Again, we confirmed that a summer cottage/home qualifies for a �legitimate, significant and continuing attachment�.

It is time for those with multiple dwellings to ask themselves if they have a more significant electoral impact in Arizona, Florida, Rochester (or wherever your winter roost is)... or, in the local town in which their Keuka Lake property resides? At the national level, your affect will be pretty equal regardless of where you choose to vote. However, your impact on local elections (state, county, town) could play a substantial role in electing officials and altering policy within one area over the other. You can only register to vote in one local, might your vote have a more substantial influence here?


REFERENCES
1. New York State Election Law Update 2009. Prepared by: The Office of Special Counsel. Kimberly A. Galvin, Special Counsel. Paul Collins, Deputy Counsel. Page 5, Section 'Dual Residency'. [Obtained June 9, 2009].



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