How to Vote While Abroad

Did you know you can still vote from overseas? And it's easy, too.



All it takes is hopping online and filling out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). This will register you to vote if you have never voted before, (or re-register if you have) and request for your ballot to be sent to you electronically.

Here's how:

 

  1. Go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP)’s website and click on “Voter Registration and Ballots”.
     
  2. Choose your state. If you are abroad indefinitely/permanently and have never registered to vote before, choose the most recent address you had while in the U.S. Otherwise your primary home address.
     
  3. Once you have chosen the state you are registering in, you can read about their specific voting information and see the deadlines to turn in your ballot. Go to the bottom left and choose one of the options for filling out the FPCA. I recommend using the FVAP’s Online Assistant, as it appears to be the simplest method for filling out the form, but you can use whatever method works best for you.
     
  4. Once you have filled out all the information you can download and print the form and sign it. You must sign it by hand, even if the rest of the form was filled out electronically, or it won’t be accepted.
     
  5. After you have signed the FPCA, you can scan it into your computer and email it to your election official along with the Electronic Transmission Sheet (ETS), mail a hard copy to them, or fax it in. Different states may have different requirements regarding how you turn in your form, so make sure you pay attention.
     
  6. You will receive your Absentee Ballot depending on the method you requested in your application (email, fax, or online download). Fill it out and return it through mail, email, or fax by the deadline.
     
  7. DONE. You have successfully voted from abroad!

On the off-chance that you do not received your Absentee Ballot 30 days before the election, you can fill out something called a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), which is also on the FVAP website under your state (find it to the right of where you found the various methods of filling out the FPCA). The FWAB allows you to write in your vote, as well as register to vote and request Absentee Ballots all at once. The FWAB will only be counted if no Absentee Ballot is received.

After you have filled out the FPCA you will only receive ballots for that election year. Therefore if you are going to be abroad for multiple years it is recommended that you fill it out again each year (preferably in January), as well as any time you change address or name.

For more information, the Department of State’s website, the Federal Voting Assistance Program, and the U.S. Vote Foundation are all great resources.

Now go out and perform your civic duty – vote!


 

MORE ABROAD ESSENTIALS:



Research by Michaela Meyer, WSA Intern
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