Obama Casts Illinois Absentee Ballot

Oct 26, 2010 7:07pm

ABC News' Maya Srikrishnan and Jennifer Schlesinger report:  

They live full-time at the White House, earn federal paychecks in the District of Columbia, and even list 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as “home” on their tax returns and 2010 Census form.

But President Obama Tuesday cast his absentee ballot for the midterm elections in Illinois, voting for Democratic gubernatorial and senate candidates Pat Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias.

While a sitting president voting in his home state is nothing new, the common practice might seem peculiar given that citizens who don’t have a permanent residence in a given state on Election Day typically can’t vote there.

In Illinois, for example, voters must be residents of their precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day, according to a registration guide published by the State Board of Elections.

“[The Obamas] may be spending more time in another place, but they are maintaining their tie in Illinois,” said Ken Menzel, a member of the legal counsel of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Menzel explained that Illinois election code provides a special exception for the Obamas and other persons living elsewhere in service of the United States, as long as they maintain a “permanent abode” in Illinois.  Most states have similar exemptions for officials serving in federal office.

The Obamas have kept their home on the south side of Chicago, and can continue to claim it as their official residency even though the First Family lives and works elsewhere, Menzel said.

Former President George W. Bush also maintained his official residency in Texas and cast ballots there during eight years in living in the White House in Washington, D.C. 

Under the Texas Election Code, Bush was considered “temporarily absent” with the assumption he would return to Texas someday. In Texas, registered voters who are temporarily away from their residence are not required to prove their intent to return. 

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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