May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - Baby boomers are entering the prime age for RVs. A lot of them will redefine their retirements. They will want to continue to learn and to contribute in their post-retirement years. - Ken Sommer
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Life On The Open Road: Some Up In The Air About Where To Vote, Some Not

As we slog through the presidential primaries, debates and endless media coverage, there are some folks who are trying to figure out where to vote. 

It's those 100,000-plus (500,000 if you believe one advocacy group) people who drive recreational vehicles, but no longer have roots anywhere but under their RV on a temporary campsite.  The problem stems because they no longer have permanent residency anywhere.  According to Tennessee law, you have to live somewhere, you can't just have a post office box, which is the method chosen by the RVers to handle their mail. 

Instead, the Voter registrar in Tennessee yanked their right to vote there because they live on the open road, so the "residents" of Tennessee filed suit to challenge the registrar's action. 

Now, all 286 of RVers dropped from the Tennessee voter roles can't vote in Tennessee according to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee Chief District Judge Curtis L. Collier

In Texas, however, some 9,000 RVers can vote, according to a different federal judge, Judge Putnam K. Reiter back in 2000.  You can read about that decision here

The inconsistent opinions is enough to drive any sane lawyer crazy, and the Tennessee RVers, along with the ACLU (who filed the lawsuit), are considering whether to appeal. 

How can we end up with inconsistent decisions that involve the same issue?  Federal trial judge decisions are not required to be reported as precedent that other federal judges in other states can rely on.  If a judge thinks her decision would be of value to other judges in the country, then that judge can have her decision recorded in the Federal Supplement, but not all judges follow this practice.  Unless the case is appealed to one of the eleven circuit courts across the country, then a "trial court"-level decision may never become known. 

Why Tennessee?  According to the Associated Press, most RV full-timers are registered in one of nine states that have no general personal income tax, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

But there's an easy solution here for the RVers who are no longer registered in Tennessee:  register to vote in Texas.  They'll still maintain their personal income tax-free status, plus they'll have the right to vote.

After all, they'll probably drive through Texas at some point anyway.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, February 25, 2008 at 21:16 Comments (0)


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