I currently live in California. It is not considered a “key battleground state” for the presidential election. Both parties have essentially conceded the electoral votes to Kerry. As long as Californians as a whole vote the way everyone expects them to, Democrats in California can afford to ship some of those votes off to other precincts in the nation, where the election will be more competitive. The same reasoning would allow Republicans to move some votes from states like Texas to the battleground states.
I’ve started looking into where to move my vote. It looks like the Great Lakes states will be fiercely fought. So I’m currently investigating registering to vote absentee in Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.
A great source of data about all the states’ differing laws related to voter registration is Declare Yourself. From there I’ve so far found out that your first vote ever in Michigan must be in person, so that one is out. That leaves OH and PA.
For Ohio, residency is defined as “the place to which you intend to return when absent”. Also, if you’ve been absent from Ohio for 4 years, you cannot be a resident. So that’s going to be tricky to achieve.
For Pennsylvania, this page gives useful ideas. However, it is related to civil service, not voting. For my purposes, it has a nifty circular reference (being registered to vote is an indication of Pennsylvania residency). My best bet would seem to be to register a car there, though it’s unclear that would be enough for the registrar of voters.
I also need to gather more information about how Electoral Votes are awarded. If it is county-by-county, I need to find a county which is hotly contested in a state which is itself hotly contested. If, on the other hand, electoral votes are awarded an entire state at a time, then I can register in any county. I’ve learned in the past that the rules related to electors and how they cast their votes differ on a state-by-state basis, so I’ve got yet more homework to do.