Seventh Circuit Hears Arguments in Case on Whether U.S. Citizens who Formerly Lived in Illinois, and Moved to a U.S. Territory, Should be Allowed to Vote

Federal law provides that U.S. citizens who leave the United States for a foreign country are permitted to continue voting absentee. But, if they move to Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam, they lose their right to vote.

Oddly enough, though, if such U.S. citzens move to the Northern Mariana Islands, which is also a U.S. possession, they may continue to vote.

On September 15, the Seventh Circuit heard arguments in Segovia v USA, 16-4240. The plaintiffs are U.S. citizens who formerly lived in Illinois and then moved to either Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. They challenge their inability to vote. They argue that because similarly-situated persons who move to the Northern Marianas are permitted to vote, they are being denied equal protection. See this story about the hearing. The three judges are Daniel Manion (a Reagan appointee), Ilana Rovner (a Bush Sr. appointee), and David Hamilton (an Obama appointee).

Here is a link to the oral argument.


Seventh Circuit Hears Arguments in Case on Whether U.S. Citizens who Formerly Lived in Illinois, and Moved to a U.S. Territory, Should be Allowed to Vote — 15 Comments

  1. How did the special N. Mar. stuff happen ???

    SCOTUS major perversion of ANY EP stuff via the DP Cl in the 5th Amdt for about 60 plus years.

  2. Northern Marianas did not have a delegate until 2008. UOCAVA took effect in 1986 and for purposes of the act defines Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia, Guam, and American Samoa as States, and defines the “United States” for territorial purposes as the several States and the five territories.

    A private citizen living outside the “United States” may vote in federal elections in their previous domicile. Mr. Segovia presumably can vote for delegate and local officials.

  3. Gerrymander hacks in the Congress are a bit slow in having general laws for added USA control areas – via wars, treaties, etc. — due in major part to such added areas having *foreign* folks — going back to the 1783 USA-Brit Peace Treaty — lots of Brits and French in western areas.

    In some treaties (or treaty enforcement laws) the foreign folks in added USA areas were given the option to become immediate USA citizens – rather than via regular naturalization laws (such as 5 years residence, etc).

  4. American Samoa is the only U.S. possession in which people born there aren’t U.S. citizens. There are no plaintiffs from American Samoa in this case. It was probably smart of the plaintiffs to not get involved with that side issue.

  5. As a matter of law, US citizens who move among the several States, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa do not “lose” their right to vote. They do lose the right to vote in their former domicile, but gain the right to vote in their new domicile.

    Someone who moves from California to Nevada, does lose the right to vote in California, but gains the right to vote in Nevada. Someone who moves from Illinois to Guam, does lose the right to vote in Illinois, but gains the right to vote in Guam.

    The US Constitution does not provide for persons in the territories to elect Representatives or Senators in Congress. It does provide for the District of Columbia to appoint presidential electors, which Congress has done based on a popular election.

    US citizens domiciled in the territories and District of Columbia may vote for delegates to Congress, and for local government officials.

    All US citizens are US nationals. Not all US nationals are US citizens. Persons born in the United States and the District of Columbia are US citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment. Persons born in the territories, except for American Samoa, are US citizens by virtue of statute.

    Other persons are US citizens at birth, by virtue of having two US citizen parents, or a US citizen parent who at the time of birth had been present in the US for a sufficient period of time after a certain age (presumably to give them experience past childhood of being an American).

    Persons may also be naturalized.

    US Nationals residing in American Samoa may vote in American Samoa. This includes US nationals born in American Samoa, along with US citizens.

    US nationals who are not US citizens (i.e. American Samoans) may reside in the United States. States could permit non-citizen nationals to vote in their elections for the larger chamber of the legislature, and they would be able to vote in congressional elections.

    In the current case, the USA defense is “that’s what the law passed by Congress says.” The plaintiffs are arguing that the statute is unfair.

  6. Did the early USA territories have the SAME definition of Elector-Voter ??? —

    NW territory, SW territory, LA territory, with many splits into smaller territories — later States.

  7. @DR, See the Northwest Ordinance, in particular sections 9 and 12. As you know, the NWO was first passed by the Continental Congress under the AOC, so it was not unusual to have the legislature of a territory to choose the delegate, since the State legislatures chose their delegate.

    After the 1789 coup, the Congress repassed the NWO, and has since provided for delegates for other territories/possessions. William Henry Harrison was the first delegate from the Territory North of the Ohio Rive (NWT). There never was an Ohio Territory, but it retained its name following the splitting off of Indiana Territory, prior to statehood.

    John Sevier, former governor of the State of Franklin, was elected to the Congress after North Carolina acceded to the Union. After North Carolina ceded the area that is now Tennessee, the Territory South of the Ohio was formed, with a delegate to the Congress. On Tennessee statehood, Sevier was elected the first governor.

    There was never a Louisiana Territory in the sense that you probably understand it. The Territory of Orleans had a delegate prior to its becoming the State of Louisiana. The Territory of Louisiana had its capital at St.Louis, and was renamed the Territory of Missouri to avoid confusion with the new state.

  8. J.R — Did the early USA territories have the SAME definition of Elector-Voter ???

    may NOT be on the internet in OLD territorial laws — if not in acts of the Congress in Stats at Large.


    1787 NW Ordinance — parts

    Sec. 9. So soon as there shall be five thousand free male inhabitants of full age in the district, upon giving proof thereof to the governor, they shall receive authority, with time and place, to elect a representative from their counties or townships to represent them in the general assembly: Provided, That, for every five hundred free male inhabitants, there shall be one representative, and so on progressively with the number of free male inhabitants shall the right of representation increase, until the number of representatives shall amount to twenty five; after which, the number and proportion of representatives shall be regulated by the legislature: Provided, That no person be eligible or qualified to act as a representative unless he shall have been a citizen of one of the United States three years, and be a resident in the district, or unless he shall have resided in the district three years; and, in either case, shall likewise hold in his own right, in fee simple, two hundred acres of land within the same; Provided, also, That a freehold in fifty acres of land in the district, having been a citizen of one of the states, and being resident in the district, or the like freehold and two years residence in the district, shall be necessary to qualify a man as an elector of a representative.
    Sec. 14. It is hereby ordained and declared by the authority aforesaid, That the following articles shall be considered as articles of compact between the original States and the people and States in the said territory and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent, to wit:
    Art. 2. The inhabitants of the said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus, and of the trial by jury; of a proportionate representation of the people in the legislature; and of judicial proceedings according to the course of the common law. ***
    See the Athens doc on Avalon — early Democracy stuff

    — a certain Deja Vu to the forces of Democracy vs the forces of monarchy-oligarchy.

    Thus the standard regime change stuff — ie USA taking over foreign areas —
    some temporary govt until regular govt.

  10. @DR,

    Statutes at Large for the pre-Civil War period are on line at the Library of Congress, including indexes.

    You didn’t quote Section 12 of the NWO which has the qualifications to vote. It had a property requirement, but it was less than for representatives. The territory also had a legislative council, which was appointed. The US couldn’t figure out what to do with an upper house when you didn’t have a King to appoint members, so they eventually made them elective, and ended up being essentially duplicates of the lower chamber.

    My guess would be that the early territories generally had continually reduced requirements. The representatives from Ohio and Kentucky would not want the reguirements to vote to be more severe than they had. But if someone couldn’t manage to be more than a farm laborer or still living on his parents farm, would you really want them voting?

    The several States had different requirements for voting (that is why Article I, Section 2 is written the way it is).

    Congress does not have the authority to set qualifications for the Illinois legislature, so it is dubious whether Congress can dictate that Illinois residents who move Guam may not vote for Congress, or that those who move to France must be permitted to vote for Congress.

  11. JR – You didn’t quote Section 12 of the NWO which has the qualifications to vote.

    NWO part-

    Sec. 12. The governor, judges, legislative council, secretary, and such other officers as Congress shall appoint in the district, shall take an oath or affirmation of fidelity and of office; the governor before the president of congress, and all other officers before the Governor. As soon as a legislature shall be formed in the district, the council and house assembled in one room, shall have authority, by joint ballot, to elect a delegate to Congress, who shall have a seat in Congress, with a right of debating but not voting during this temporary government.

    Sec. 9 above had the Elector-voter qualifications.

  12. There is also the first sentence of 14 Amdt, Sec. 1 —

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States [[and of the State wherein they reside]].

    NO ***reside*** in a State = NO citizen of such State ??? Duh.

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