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Voter Qualifications in California

The mere intention to acquire a new domicile has no impact

By Chris Micheli, January 22, 2022 7:34 am

Voter qualification rules are found in the California Elections Code in Division 2, Chapter 1. Article 1 provides General Provisions and it references Article II, Section 2 of the California Constitution. Section 2(a) specifies that “a United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote.”

Elections Code Section 2000 provides that any person who will be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election is eligible to register and vote at that election. In addition, any person who is at least 16 years of age and otherwise meets all eligibility requirements to vote is eligible to preregister to vote, but is not eligible to vote until he or she is 18 years of age.

Article 2 provides Determination of Residence and Domicile. Section 2020 provides that the term of domicile is computed by including the day on which the person’s domicile commenced and by excluding the day of the election. Section 2021 specifies that a person who leaves his or her home to go into another state or precinct in this state for temporary purposes merely, with the intention of returning, does not lose his or her domicile.

Section 2022 states that, if a person moves to another state with the intention of making it his or her domicile, the voter loses his or her domicile in this state. Section 2023 provides that, if a person moves to another state as a place of permanent residence, with the intention of remaining there for an indefinite time, he or she loses his or her domicile in this state, notwithstanding that he or she intends to return at some future time.

Section 2024 states that the mere intention to acquire a new domicile has no impact. Section 2025 provides that a person does not gain or lose a domicile solely by reason of his or her presence or absence from a place while employed in the service of the United States or of this state, nor while engaged in navigation, nor while a student of any institution of learning, nor while kept in an almshouse, asylum or prison.

Section 2026 provides that the domicile of a Member of the Legislature or a Representative in the Congress of the United States is conclusively presumed to be at the residence address indicated on that person’s currently filed affidavit of registration, as long as the address is a residence, notwithstanding that the Member or Representative may have another residence.

Section 2027 specifies that the place where a person’s family is domiciled is his or her domicile unless it is a place for temporary establishment for his or her family. Section 2028 provides that, if a person has a family fixed in one place, and the person does business in another place, the former is the person’s place of domicile.

Section 2029 prohibits the domicile of one spouse from being presumed to be that of the other, but is to be determined independently in accordance with this article. Section 2030 provides that a domiciliary of this state who marries a person employed temporarily in this state in the service of the United States government, may elect to retain his or her domicile for the purpose of qualifying as an elector only, except that his or her domicile in this state will terminate if the domiciliary qualifies as an elector in any other state or any territory.

Section 2031 states that, if a person has more than one residence and that person maintains a homeowner’s property tax exemption on the dwelling of one of the residences, there is a rebuttable presumption that the residence subject to the homeowner’s property tax exemption is that person’s domicile.

Section 2032 provides that, if a person has more than one residence and that person has not physically resided at any one of the residences within the immediate preceding year, there is a rebuttable presumption that those residences in which he or she has not so resided within the immediate preceding year are merely residences and not his or her domicile.

Section 2033 specifies that, whenever the house number or the mailing address of a voter has been changed and the voter’s domicile is the same, the public agency authorizing the change must notify the county elections official in writing of the change and the county elections official must make the change on the voter’s affidavit of registration and a new affidavit is not required.

Section 2034 states that a person domiciled in a house or apartment lying in more than one precinct is registered as domiciled in the precinct designated by the county elections official on the basis of the street address or other precinct the county elections official considers appropriate unless the person requests.

Section 2035 provides that a person duly registered as a voter in any precinct in California who removes therefrom within 14 days prior to an election is, for the purpose of that election, entitled to vote in the precinct from which the person so removed until the close of the polls on the date of that election.

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