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Protect Your Right to Vote While Full-time RVing

Updated: Jan 14



In 1776, our forefathers declared our independence from England. In that Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This principle that most of us have lived with all our lives (and therefore take for granted) is profound. It’s both “a proclamation of faith in human equality and a firm rebuke of tyranny.” (This is our Constitution p. 11, by Khizr Khan, Knopf 2017.)


In 1787, after the American Revolution, 39 men from 12 states wrote the Constitution. The following year, it was ratified by representatives from the 13 then-existing states. It began with a Preamble and seven articles. The first 10 amendments make up the Bill of Rights, and they were added in 1791.


The most recent amendment, the Twenty-Seventh, was added in 1992. In short, this is a country, ruled by laws and guided by principles. The Fifteenth Amendment added in 1870 stated that the right to vote cannot be denied due to race, color, or because the voter was previously a slave. The Nineteenth Amendment, passed in 1920, granted women the right to vote.


During the Vietnam War, in 1971, when male citizens 18 years of age and older could be involuntarily drafted and sent to war, the Twenty-Sixth amendment was added, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 (“if you are old enough to fight for this country, you are old enough to vote”).


At one time, poll taxes (a fee for voting) were allowed, and those unable to pay were unable to vote. Those poll taxes were abolished by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, passed in 1964. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 also abolished a literacy test that used to be allowed before a person could vote.


And most profoundly: the people have the ultimate power, not the military, not the government, not the president. (Brief recap of some of the highlights of: This is our Constitution by Khizr Khan, Knopf 2017.)


**Protect Your Right to Vote**

This short summary of history emphasizes that voting is an important right of every American citizen. In particular, as a full-time RVer, how can you protect your right to vote?


Since our law practice, Loring & Associates, is in Livingston, Texas (Polk County), home of Escapees Inc., I will discuss this issue from the Polk County, Texas, point of view. I am helped by the fact that Polk County’s County Clerk, Schelana Hock, recently sent an e-mail with information on absentee voting for Escapees members with this information.


**Absentee Voting Information**

The date for the primary elections, city, school, and utility district elections will be held March 5, 2024, the primary runoff election, May 28, 2024, and the general election, November 5, 2024. If you will not be in Polk County on those days, you will need to vote by mail. To apply, an application can be obtained by e-mailing shock@co.polk.tx.us.


The application might be rejected for any of the following reasons:

  • The application was received more than 60 days before the election “held in January or February of the year following the year the ABBM (i.e., Absentee Ballot) was received.”

  • Your application was not properly delivered, or it was received after the deadline to apply for a ballot by mail.

  • You indicate you are voting due to expected absence from the county and yet the address you have asked to send the application is in the county.

Since this may have the biggest impact on Escapees members, contact the Escapees call center at 888-757-2582 for an appropriate, out-of-county, address.

  • If in jail, the address to which your ballot is mailed must be the jail address or a relative’s address.

  • Your application was not signed.

  • If you had a witness sign, the witness failed to (1) indicate their relationship to you or (2) failed to indicate that you were unable to make your mark in lieu of signature or (3) failed to provide his/her printed name or residence address.

  • Your application did not indicate the reason you are entitled to vote by mail.

  • For a primary election, you must indicate your party of preference (unless you are 65 or older and have submitted an annual ABBM), you will receive ballots for all but the primary if you failed to put party preference.

  • Your residence address of registration was not provided on your application.

  • Your application was received after the deadline for receiving the application for a ballot by mail.

  • According to the voter registrar’s records, you are not currently registered to vote.

  • The election ballot for which you are applying could not determine.

  • Your application was submitted via fax or e-mail but you failed to send a hard copy original within four business days.

In Polk County, Texas, an e-mail address or cell phone number should be included along with your application in case any of these problems exist. Also, unless you are 65 or older, you must file a separate application for each election, the primary, any runoff, and the general election.


**Speights v. Willis**

In 2002, Escapees, Inc. was involved in a lawsuit in Polk County, Texas, Speights v. Willis, No.09-02-192 CV (App. Ct. – Beaumont, October 24, 2002). The court determined in that lawsuit that members of Escapees RV Club who had created a domicile in Polk County, Texas, could vote in that county. This is one of the many reasons “establishing a domicile” is so important, especially for full-time RVers. If you are concerned about whether you have an established domicile, this case is helpful.


**Rights at Risk**

Your voting rights are currently at risk, so use the right to vote by voting. The Supreme Court is now considering an Ohio law that purges the voting rolls of those who haven’t voted in a two-year period. Is it Constitutional to purge the rolls of those who fail to vote? The Supreme Court determined that it was constitutional.


**About the Author**

K. SUSIE ADAMS has been a lawyer for over 30 years, spending 15 of those years working as a trial lawyer. K. Susie Adams specializes in domicile-related questions and will be glad to help anyone who may need assistance. She also taught legal writing at the University of Houston Law School. From 2011–2016, she was the executive director of Childrenz Haven, the Child Advocacy Center of Polk County, Texas. Susie and her husband, James Frost, reside in Livingston, Texas.


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Anne Schuette
Anne Schuette
12 жовт. 2023 р.

Clear and concise article of important legal concerns that may arise for those who enjoy life traveling in their RVs.

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