Christopher Ketchum in Monday’s Times Union made this shocking revelation:I am a repeat offending felon, but the cops in New York have yet to catch up with me. The offenses revolve around my licentious voting habit. I enjoy voting, and I try to do so in every election. The problem, where state law is concerned, is that I am illegally registered to vote from my father's house in Brooklyn, where I occasionally crash but where I haven't lived with any permanence in more than a decade. As a freelance writer, I am by nature and inclination nomadic. So I figured the easiest thing to do was to maintain a voting address at my dad's place, which isn't going anywhere.Ketchum writes that state courts and county officials have long ignored what he considers to be a “lunatic” part of New York residency law:It demands that voters maintain, in the language of the statute, a “fixed, permanent, principal home.”Of course, there are scads of New Yorkers who face the same problem as he does; students, the homeless, and those who are simply transient by nature simply do not have “permanent” residences.

Ketchum notes, though, that in 1999, a lawyer and reformer named John Kennedy O’Hara was prosecuted for registering from one of his two legitimate residences in Brooklyn.

Under this precedent, even Bill and Hillary Clinton could be prosecuted for voting in Westchester County when they established a residence there while they were still living in the White House.

Certainly, the government has the right to demand that people only vote in one location that they consider their primary residence. But the right to vote is as fundamental for students, freelancers, and other “mobile” residents as anyone else, and states and localities should ensure their registration laws do not discourage or block these citizens from registering and voting.

For more on student voting, read our policy brief.

Categories: General, Voting