After years of struggle, we no longer require property ownership, employ poll taxes, or force citizens to take literary tests to vote. The franchise is now also open to women, African Americans, and other groups that were previously disenfranchised. However, our states still prevent citizens from voting if they fail to meet a durational residency requirement. The states also impose lengthy durational residency requirements on candidates seeking public office. This Article examines the history of America’s durational residency requirements. It looks at the debates of the framers at the Constitutional Convention, at how state durational residency requirements were broadened in response to migration in the 1800s, and at how durational residency requirements were narrowed by the federal government and the Supreme Court in the 1970s. The result left a system in which durational residency requirements impact voters and candidates differently, and in which these requirements differ at the state and federal levels. In most states, durational residency requirements for voters have been substantially curtailed, while they remain on the books for candidates. To show how this impacts politics, this Article examines several high-profile durational residency contests. It also probes whether these requirements may ever be justified in American democracy.
Eugene D. Mazo,
Residency and Democracy: Durational Residency Requirements From the Framers to the Present,
43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev.