US expats have to walk a fine line when it comes to anything related to our former residence in the US. We are still tied to our last state of residence (in my case, California) for various official purposes, but if we cross the line that state can charge us state taxes.
Here’s an example: for federal elections, our votes are counted in the last state we lived in before moving abroad. If we cast a vote there, we’re OK – we’re considered residents for voting purposes but not tax purposes. But if we start voting in state or local elections, the state can tax us. (If you have questions about your state tax liability, talk to a tax professional. It can get tricky depending on your state and situation.)
State primaries were always a grey area for me. It’s a federal race, but the primary delegates are at a state level. Since California is fairly aggressive about claiming residency, I just avoided it. But not any longer! It turns out there are delegates just for citizens living abroad – at least, as long as you’re a Democrat.
Democrats Abroad represents US citizen expats in the Democratic Party. It holds a Global Presidential Primary and sends 21 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. It gives US citizens living abroad a collective voice! For me that’s even more meaningful than voting along with my former state of residence in the general election (although if I had last lived in a swing state I might feel differently).
In any case, if you are a US citizen and a Democrat living abroad, it’s not too late! You have until March 8 to join Democrats Abroad and vote in the primary. And you can even send in your ballot via email. So no more excuses: vote now!