RV resident finds himself in voter limbo
Nevada Appeal Staff Report
A Carson City man who sold a home in favor of an RV and extensive travel has found himself in a Catch-22 that bars him from voting this year.
Art Cooke said he and his wife Rita sold their home several years ago but still call Carson City home.
“All my vehicles have a Nevada license. I file my income tax in Nevada. I have a small business in Nevada. My driver’s license is issued by Nevada. My U.S. Passport address is in Nevada.” he said by phone from Yuma, Ariz.
But Cooke doesn’t have an actual residence in Nevada so, under state law, he can’t vote.
Matt Griffin, elections deputy to Secretary of State Ross Miller, said unfortunately for Cooke, the law is clear.
“You have to maintain a residence in the state of Nevada to vote here,” he said.
The one exception, Griffin said, is a “no fixed address” registration that is only good for those Americans with no fixed residence in a Presidential election.
He said he had to tell Cooke there isn’t much he can do about the law.
“I’m a citizen of the U.S. but I’m not a citizen of any state, I guess,” said Cooke. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
He said it’s especially annoying because he paid about $900 a year in property taxes on his Carson home but pays $2,000 a year for the registration on his RV.
“I’m paying more in taxes now than I was when I had the home,” he said.
Cooke said even if he can’t vote in local elections, he should be able to vote for U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Griffin said the law was designed to prevent non-Nevadans from voting in the state’s elections and most states have similar language in statute for the same reason. Nevada law specifically prohibits a voter from giving a Post Office Box as his or her address. Griffin said the voter must register with an actual street address.
He said that address determines which precinct a person lives in and, therefore, what races he or she is allowed to vote in. If the state accepted a vehicle registration as proof of residence, he said, “what ballot do you get?”
Cooke said the ACLU is looking into his situation.