Code Section
Colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Qualifications And Registration Of Electors

1-2-102. Rules for determining residence

Overview of Statute

An individual’s residency is determined either by the location of a person’s primary home, place of abode, or the mailing address used by those without a home. A primary place of abode is the location of fixed habitation where a person intends to return if ever absent, for any length of time, including houses, condominiums, apartments, rooms in a house, and mobile homes. For registration purposes – the residence given must accord with the residence given for motor vehicle registration and state income tax purposes. Business addresses and vacant lots are not considered acceptable places of abode. Considerations taken into account include business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax purposes, age, marital status, reisdence of parents and children, motor vehicle registration, and other pertinent information. For homeless individuals, valid mailing addresses include shelters, homeless service providers, and private residences, but not post office boxes or general delivery at a post office. Homeless individuals without a mailing address cannot register.

An individual who moves out of the state will lose residence after an absence of twenty-two days, unless the individual affirms an intent to retain residence.


(1) The following rules shall be used to determine the residence of a person intending to register or to vote in any precinct in this state and shall be used by election judges in challenge procedures:

(a) (I) The residence of a person is the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person. A principal or primary home or place of abode is that home or place in which a person’s habitation is fixed and to which that person, whenever absent, has the present intention of returning after a departure or absence, regardless of the duration of the absence. A residence is a permanent building or part of a building and may include a house, condominium, apartment, room in a house, or mobile home. No vacant lot or business address shall be considered a residence.

(II) For the purpose of voter registration residence, a homeless elector shall identify a specific location within a county where the elector returns to regularly. This location may include a homeless shelter, a homeless services provider, a park, a campground, a vacant lot, a business address, or any other physical location. If the homeless elector’s registration residence does not include a mailing address, the elector shall also provide a mailing address.

1(b) In determining what is the principal or primary place of abode of a person, the following circumstances relating to the person shall be taken into account: Business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax purposes, age, marital status, residence of parents, spouse or civil union partner, and children, if any, leaseholds, situs of personal and real property, existence of any other residences and the amount of time spent at each residence, and motor vehicle registration.

(c) The residence given for voting purposes shall be the same as the residence given for motor vehicle registration and for state income tax purposes.

(d) A person shall not be considered to have gained a residence in this state, or in any county or municipality in this state, while retaining a home or domicile elsewhere.

(e) If a person moves to any other state with the intention of making it a permanent residence, that person is considered to have lost Colorado residence after twenty-two days’ absence from this state unless the person has evidenced an intent to retain a residence in this state by a self-affirmation executed pursuant to section 1-7.5-107 (3) (b.5).

(f) After a person moves from one residence to another and has made the new residence his or her sole legal place of residence, the person is considered to have residence at the residence in this state to which the person moved.


Source: L. 92: Entire article R&RE, p. 636, § 2, effective January 1, 1993.L. 94: (1)(e) and (1)(f) amended, p. 1752, § 5, effective January 1, 1995.L. 96: (1)(a) and (1)(e) amended, pp. 1734, 1773, § § 8, 77, effective July 1.L. 2013: (1)(b), (1)(e), and (1)(f) amended, (HB 13-1303), ch. 185, p. 687, § 7, effective May 10.L. 2014: (1)(f) amended, (SB 14-161), ch. 160, p. 555, § 2, effective May 9. L. . 2018: (1)(a)(II) amended, (SB 18-233), ch. 262, p. 1603, § 2, effective May 29.


Editor’s note: This section is similar to former § 1-2-102 as it existed prior to 1992.

Cross references: (1) For change of residence, see § 1-2-216; for penalty for voting by giving false information regarding place of residence, see § 1-2-228; for residency requirement for electors, see § 1-2-101 (1)(b); for emergency registration in certain cases of change of residence, see § 1-2-217.5.

(2) In 2013, subsections (1)(b), (1)(e), and (1)(f) were amended by the “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act”. For the short title and the legislative declaration, see sections 1 and 2 of chapter 185, Session Laws of Colorado 2013.
I. General Consideration.
II. Establishing Residence.

Annotator’s note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.

A person is not entitled to vote unless he has adopted the state as a fixed and permanent habitation. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923).

And there must not only be a personal presence, but an intent to make the place his true home. Merrill v. Shearston, 73 Colo. 230, 214 P. 540 (1923).

And a change of voting place is compelling evidence of an intention to make a change in residence. Kellner v. Dist. Court, 127 Colo. 320, 256 P.2d 887 (1953).

But residence is not acquired by mere intention. People v. Turpin, 49 Colo. 234, 112 P. 539 (1910).

The mere intention to return to a former abode at some more or less indefinite time, with no other indicia of a home or domicile, may not fulfill the usual requirements of legal residence for voting purposes. Gordon v. Blackburn, 618 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1980).

As the residence contemplated is synonymous with home or domicile and means actual settlement within the state. Sharp v. McIntire, 23 Colo. 99, 46 P. 115 (1896); People v. Turpin, 49 Colo. 234, 112 P. 539 (1910).

Hence, mere purchase of home in the state is not sufficient. The purchase by a citizen of another state of a plantation in this state with a bona fide purpose to remove to it, and make it his home as soon as possession can be acquired, but in the meantime retaining his former home, does not constitute him a resident of this state, though he afterwards, pursuing his original purpose, removes to this state and establishes himself here. People v. Turpin, 49 Colo. 234, 112 P. 539 (1910).

For residence and capacity as an elector relate to the day of actual settlement in this state, and not to the day when the purpose was formed. People v. Turpin, 49 Colo. 234, 112 P. 539 (1910).

Moreover, one who has a home or domicile in another state cannot by a sojourn here, however long, acquire a residence in this state, within the meaning of this section, without abandoning his former domicile. Sharp v. McIntire, 23 Colo. 99, 46 P. 115 (1896).

Thus, to effect a change of residence from one state to another, there must be an actual removal, an actual change of domicile, and a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one. People v. Turpin, 49 Colo. 234, 112 P. 539 (1910).

Test of residency after elector moves from precinct. The following inquiry is required to be undertaken if an elector has moved outside the boundaries of his voting precinct and wishes to retain his right to vote there: (1) Had the party established his principal or primary home or place of abode within the election precinct? and (2) was the individual’s departure taken or does his absence continue with a present intention of returning to the precinct in the future? Gordon v. Blackburn, 618 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1980).

Intent to keep legal residency central factor. Once a person’s legal residence has been established, his intent to keep it becomes the central factor in determining whether it continues. Gordon v. Blackburn, 618 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1980).

Some time limit must be set for determining who is and who is not a resident for the purpose of voting, not only to preserve the purity of the election but also for administrative reasons. Hall v. Beals, 292 F. Supp. 610 (D. Colo. 1968), appeal dismissed as moot, 396 U.S. 45, 90 S. Ct. 200, 24 L. Ed. 2d 214 (1969).

Temporary move for work purposes does not constitute abandonment of domicile. Where a man and his wife had acquired a domicile in a town and a short while before an election they moved to another place where the man had a contract to work with the intention of residing there till the contract was finished and during the time left their home in the town with part of their furniture in the care of another, they had not abandoned their domicile and were legally entitled to vote at an election in the town of their domicile occurring during the time of their residence at the place of the work. Jain v. Bossen, 27 Colo. 423, 62 P. 194 (1900).

One does not lose voting rights by reason of departure or absence from primary home, once it has been established. Gordon v. Blackburn, 618 P.2d 668 (Colo. 1980).

But where a person registers in another state and makes declarations to that end, that person cannot legally vote in Colorado. Kellner v. Dist. Court, 127 Colo. 320, 256 P.2d 887 (1953).

Definition [State]

A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Title]

A brief statement that fairly and accurately represents the true intent and meaning of the proposed text of the initiative.

Definition [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Section]

A bound compilation of initiative forms approved by the secretary of state, which shall include pages that contain the warning required by section 1-40-110 (1), the ballot title, the abstract required by section 1-40-110 (3), and a copy of the proposed measure; succeeding pages that contain the warning, the ballot title, and ruled lines numbered consecutively for registered electors’ signatures; and a final page that contains the affidavit required by section 1-40-111 (2). Each section shall be consecutively prenumbered by the petitioner prior to circulation.

Definition [Election]

Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.


Colorado Cases

Case Name: Gordon v. Blackburn

Citation: 618 P.2d 668

Year: 1980

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that electors who cast two contested votes for mayoral candidate did not do so illegally on the ground that they were not “residents” of municipality where there was substantial evidence that the electors had established their principal or primary home in that municipality for over eight and one-half years; during such time they considered themselves and were treated by others as residents; their business operation and self-employment were located within the municipality; their marital status was continuous and localized in the municipality; they owned and continued to own real property within the municipality; and they did not otherwise plan to establish an official place of residence elsewhere even though they did not own, rent, or occupy any dwelling within city limits at the time of the election.

Case Name: Sharp v. McIntire

Citation: 46 P. 115

Year: 1896

Case PDF: Sharp v. McIntire

Case Summary: Holding that voters were ineligible because they were in Colorado merely for a business purpose and they made their home in another state.

Case Name: People v. Turpin

Citation: 112 P. 539

Year: 1910

Case PDF: People v. Turpin

Case Summary: Concluding that because two voters were not entitled to vote, the trial court erred in not requiring them to testify as to how they voted and noting that the law protecting secrecy of the ballot was only intended for lawful voters and did not protect illegal voters.

Case Name: Jain v. Bossen

Citation: 62 P. 194

Year: 1900

Case Summary: Finding that 4 of the 26 voters the county court accepted were qualified to vote and that contest who won election for office of trustee was qualified to be elected as he intended to and did change his domicile to the town.

Case Name: Merrill v. Shearston

Citation: 214 P. 540

Year: 1923

Case Summary: Affirming decision of the trial court that patients at a hospital were not qualified to vote, because evidence did not show their intent to make a home in the precinct.

Case Name: Kellner v. Dist. Court

Citation: 256 P.2d 887

Year: 1953

Case URL:

Case Summary: Granting sellers of a residence a writ of prohibition against the trial court's proceeding with an action to rescind the sale and purchase agreement, because the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over sellers: they had registered to vote in their new state and had secured employment there, so they intended to reside outside of Colorado and in their new state.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Hall v. Beals

Citation: 396 U.S. 45

Federal District Court: District of Colorado

Year: 1969

Case URL:[...]

Case Summary: Holding that plaintiffs who were precluded from voting in the 1968 presidential election by Colorado statutes imposing a six-month residency requirement, but who could have voted in 1968 election under the statute as amended after the election, were no longer members of a class of disenfranchised voters and could not represent the class, and dismissing the action to enjoin the enforcement of the statute as moot.

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