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How To Vote In Vanlife | Voting Tips For Nomads

How to Vote In Vanlife Pin

Just because you have embraced a traveling lifestyle doesn’t mean you should give up your right to vote.  But the truth is that it is harder to vote without a traditional residential address.  So I want to help teach you how to vote in vanlife.  There are several methods you can use as your address for voter registration. And I also include tips for getting mail in vanlife. Keep in mind that sometimes getting ready to vote can take several weeks.  So if you are eyeing a particular voting deadline, then it’s best to get organized a month-or-so ahead just to be safe.

There is lots of overlap between the topic of voting in vanlife and how to get mail on the road. But we have an entire post dedicated to getting mail on the road., here.

Voter Registration

The first step of voting starts with maintaining an active voter registration.  You should check if you are registered to vote before continuing.  If you are someone who moves around a lot (like us), then you may need to check several addresses before you land on the right one.  So don’t forget to check several previous addresses if your first guess doesn’t work.

What Address Will You Use For Voter Registration

The first problem you will run into as a nomad is what address to use for your voter registration.  There are a couple of ways you can solve this challenge.

Old Address For Voter Registration

You can technically keep an active voter registration at an old address that you don’t live at anymore.  After all, you don’t have a new address to update your registration to.  This exception applies to people living abroad, but I’m not clear on if that same logic could apply to someone living domestically without an address.

But the problem with using an old address is receiving any mail that gets sent there. If the current tenant is a friend then you may be able to convince them to mail any ballots to your current location.  But if it’s strangers, then this plan probably won’t work.  And even if it’s a friend, they probably don’t want to be the middleman for your voting mail. 

Family & Friends

Some vanlifers and nomads will use a family member or friend’s place as their residential address for voter registration (and other mail).  If they are willing to do it for free, then you might have your perfect solution.  But you are counting on them to be reliable, and it’s likely they could make mistakes or just forget to forward things.  And it also depends on how you feel about asking for favors.

If you are only planning to do vanlife for a short period, then this solution might work for you.  But your friends and family probably don’t want to handle your mail over a long period of time, so what can you do?

Methods Used By The Homeless

Homeless people are another population of people who are faced with the challenge of voting without an address.  And I know most vanlifers don’t like to consider themselves homeless, per se, but in the eyes of the government it’s similar.

So you can reference some of the accepted methods used by homeless people for voter registration.  You can establish a “home base” with the address of a shelter, advocacy organization, campground, park, or even street corner that you “regularly return to and have the intent to remain”.  Not quite sure how anyone would ever verify that.

There are however some requirements of residency in certain states.  Here’s a chart of the residency rules for each state.

But even with your residency established, you still need to provide a mailing address as well.  So in the case of a shelter, or advocacy group, they may be willing to accept your voting mail.  But a different solution is needed for the less formal “home base” options.

Virtual Mailbox To Vote In Vanlife

A virtual mailbox is a great solution if you are looking for a long-term reliable solution for voter registration and mail delivery.  A virtual mailbox is a paid service that is basically like a P.O. Box on steroids.  The one we have used is Anytime Mailbox, and we recommend them!

A virtual mailbox can provide you with a mailing address that can be used for voter registration.  But it must be one that offers addresses that appear like a normal street address.

This is the key difference that allows you to use your virtual mailbox address for things like voter registration and vehicle registration.

Pro Tip: Most Virtual mailbox services are in populated metro areas.  But we chose an address in rural Steamboat Springs because our vehicle insurance is much cheaper than if our address was in Denver.  No need to pay a premium price for “city” insurance rates, when we barely spend any time in the city.

But beyond that, a Virtual Mailbox is a complete solution for all types of mail services.  They offer a variety of premium services like mail & package forwarding, opening and scanning, check depositing, and more. With the Anytime Mailbox App we can manage all our incoming mail from phones, easily sort incoming mail, and submit requests from any necessary actions.

Or you also can go pick up mail or packages in person if you are nearby.

What’s The Catch?

However, virtual mailboxes tend to be a little pricey.  They typically charge an annual or monthly fee, and often have individual fees for certain services, like package forwarding or check depositing.

But we find that it’s worth the cost for a reliable 24/7 service that solves all our voter needs, plus mail services and vehicle registration.

Another factor to consider with virtual mailboxes is that you can only vote on local ballot issues in the county that your virtual address resides.  So we can vote on local issues in Steamboat Springs, but to us, it feels disingenuous to vote on local issues in a community that we don’t actually spend much time.  So we typically limit our voting to state and national elections.

Helpful Tools To Vote In Vanlife

Once you have figured out your voter registration, it’s time to actually vote.  My two favorite tools for voting in vanlife are and is best for all the actionable tasks required to vote, like checking registration, requesting absentee ballots, finding polling locations, etc. is better for doing research about candidates and issues.

How To Know When Elections Take Place

So once you are registered to vote, you need to be educated on what elections are taking place.  That way you are prepared for ballots to arrive in the mail.  Or you can request an absentee ballot or find a polling place.

You also can see a sample ballot for your address to do research on issues or candidates to make an informed decision.  You can click on individual ballot measures or candidates to learn more about them.

I love the section on ballotopedia where they break down each ballot issue.  They provide tons of information about the primary arguments for and against, who is the prominent supporters and opposition, what the financial impacts might be, and more.

Takeaway | How To Vote In Vanlife

I hope these tips and resources help you continue to cast your vote in vanlife!  When your are living an alternative lifestyle, there are extra barriers to voting.  And there’s a tendency for vanlifers and nomads to have their voices lost.  But with the tools and techniques above we have been able to stay active voters, even while on the road.  Make sure your voice is heard!

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