I am not sure what state to register to vote in, as I am 21 and this is the first election I can vote in. Here is my situation:

  • I have a Florida driver's license.
  • My family moved to New Jersey this year; we sold our house in Florida last month.
  • I go to university and live in an apartment in Rhode Island.

So should I register in Florida, New Jersey, or Rhode Island?

1 Answer 1


Great question!

You should not register to vote in Florida, and you'll need to replace your Florida driver's license ASAP. It's associated with an address that is no longer valid, and most states make you relicense (and reregister your car) within a span of time after moving. New Jersey gives you 60 days, Rhode Island gives you 30.

Beyond that, it comes down a question of where you're going to consider your permanent residence. You should both get your license from that state and register to vote there. NJ requires that you have been a resident of the county for at least 30 days prior to the election, RI requires simply being a resident.

Presuming you're qualified to register in both states, you can choose to register tactically - currently, both states are projected to vote for Clinton in the general election, but it's more of a sure thing in RI than NJ. However, keep in mind that this also affects more than just voting: State taxes, possibly in-state vs out-of-state tuition, etc. You're choosing which state is your official permanent residence (until you next move).

All that said, should you prefer RI or NJ? That's a decision many college students face when they go to college out-of-state. It will depend on how often you go home (frequently, summers, almost never...), whether you have your own car/insurance or you're on your parents', and so on. There's probably other stacks which can provide better advice on that front. (Money.SE or Acadamia.SE are the two that come to mind, but check their tours and guidelines first.)

  • 1
    Thorough answer! I did want to flag, however, the issue of taxes or tuition isn't tied in to voter registration, that's been a line used frequently to dissuade college students from registering to vote on campus. See Symm v. United States (brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legal-work/…) Aug 2, 2016 at 21:16
  • @LearnWorkLearn - Not living in either state, I can just go by what the official websites say. They both require an in-state address and one of: Driver's License number, other state-issued ID number, or last four of a SSN. You can probably hold a NJ license and register in RI with your dorm/off-campus-housing as an address (using your SSN), but you may have more hoops to jump through.
    – Bobson
    Aug 2, 2016 at 21:36
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    @LearnWorkLearn's point is probably that registering to vote typically has no effect on one's eligibility for in-state tuition rates. It is generally also not determinative of income taxation. Each area of law or administration typically has a set of criteria used to judge whether a person is a resident, and they are frequently different. For motor vehicles, students are typically treated as an exception; they can choose to keep their licenses and auto registrations at a parent's address (or not), and they can choose to vote either at home or at school. Neither choice affects tax residence.
    – phoog
    Jan 17, 2022 at 9:26

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