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…if It Wasn't for Those Meddling Kids

January 29, 2007

This guy walks into a bar… only it isn’t a guy, it’s a State Representative, and it isn’t a bar, it’s the State House. Anyway, he doesn’t think college students should be able to vote where they reside:

… College students who claim [what, no “scare quotes”?] residency in Maine but spend summers or holidays in other states pose a threat to full-time residents, Knight said.

“What it does is disenfranchise Maine voters who are paying their taxes,” he said. “I want these kids to become part of the political process. But I don’t want them to determine who our governor is, and then head back to California or Michigan, or wherever they’re from.” [Kennebec Journal: College Dems protest plan to halt voting]

Uhhhh… Paying taxes is not requisite for voting. Stop measuring things in money, people! College students, especially ones attending the state universities and community colleges are stakeholders and should be allowed to vote on those-who-decide-how-much-they-will-pay-to-go-to-college here. Note to money-measurers: though it isn’t ‘paying taxes’ it is ‘paying tuition’ to the state.

Also, if I am not mistaken — correct me if I’m wrong [edit: I am partially wrong, see update below.] — when someone resides in a place 223 out of 365 days— more for students who keep off-campus apartments over winter break —which is more than half the year, then they become a legal resident and they aren’t just “claiming” residency. (There’s the scare quotes!)

Knight also accused Maine college students of committing large-scale voter fraud by casting absentee ballots while also voting in Maine elections.

“They laugh about it, it’s a joke,” Knight said. “They can overwhelm a community.”

Knight also said that he had no evidence to substantiate these allegations. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded part says it all, doesn’t it? Most of it, anyway.

Holy Fucking Shit. Anybody can really say anything they want to in today’s world, can’t they.

That’s egregious!

Disclosure: the Author may have once voted for Governor based solely on an unequivocal promise that the state budget was fine and there would absolutely be no need to raise tuition rates at the state universities and colleges, only to face a tuition increase immediately upon said Governor’s election. (Hey, that guy was saying anything he wanted to back then!) That was egregious!

UPDATE: As self-punishment for going off half-cocked earlier, the State of Maine residency requirements for student voter registration are now below the fold. As I read it, it looks like students living on-campus— who haven’t established residency in, say, an apartment —are already not considered legal residents for voting purposes. Which takes some of the wind out of that part of my argument. But, I will note that the determination is left to the municipality where the person is attempting to register; and I remember being allowed to vote in the town where I was living on campus, rather than my home town.

On the other hand, if you read the residency part of the tax code, (also included below the fold,) if the person earns income in Maine, regardless of residency, they must pay Maine taxes! Which kinda buggers that part of Knight’s argument as well.

Voter registration:

Students:

Students have the right to register in the municipality where they attend school, if they have established residency there. Students must meet the same residency requirements as all other potential voters, but may not be asked to meet any additional requirements.

Students who are not residents of the municipality in which they attend school cannot register in that municipality. Students must determine where they have established residency and register to vote there. If residency is determined to be in another municipality or state, absentee voting is possible and encouraged.

The following items should be kept in mind when determining residency for a college student:

* A person does not gain or lose a residence solely because of the person’s presence or absence while a student in any institution of learning. This may not be construed to prevent a student at any institution of learning from qualifying as a voter in the municipality where the student resides while attending that institution [Title 21-A, §112.7]
* When registering students, the registrar must make the determination of residency as he or she would for any potential voter.
* A student may have only one residence at any one time.
* If a student has established residency in another municipality or State for any reason, and if the circumstances have not changed, the other jurisdiction may be the legal residence where the student should be registered to vote. [Information on Voter Eligibility in Maine]

Taxes:

If you are a nonresident of Maine, you must pay Maine tax on all income from work performed in Maine.

And:

STATUTORY RESIDENCY STATUS

Even if you are domiciled in another state, you may still be taxed as a Maine resident if you are a “statutory resident.” (But this does not apply to military personnel. See the section on “Military Personnel” for more information on state taxation of military personnel and their family members.)

You are a statutory resident if:

1. you spent more than 183 days in Maine during the tax year (any portion of a day
is counted as a full day), and

2. you maintained a permanent place of abode in Maine for the entire tax year.

A permanent place of abode is a house, apartment, dwelling place, or other residence that an individual maintains as his or her household, whether or not he or she owns it. The term does not include a seasonal camp or cottage that is used only for vacations , a hotel or motel room, or a dormitory room used by a student during the school year. A place of abode is not deemed permanent if it is maintained only during a temporary stay in Maine for the accomplishment of a particular purpose.

And:

Example 9 – Nonresident Student. Donna is domiciled in New Jersey and attends college in Maine. She lives in a dormitory room on campus during the school year (240+ days), which runs from late August to May. When the school year ends, she moves out of the dormitory and resides out of state with her parents. The following August, Donna returns to college for another year and again resides in a dormitory room on campus. Donna’s domicile remains the same as her parents. Although she spends most of her time in Maine, she has not changed her previous domicile. In addition, she is not a statutory resident by physical presence. Even though she was present in Maine for more than 183 days, her dormitory room is not considered a permanent place of abode. [RESIDENCY AND MAINE’S INCOME TAX]

However, if Donna earns income in Maine, then she becomes a nonresident taxpayer, or at least has to file a Maine tax return.

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