US Citizens abroad can vote and should vote. After all, moving abroad doesn’t mean you don’t identify as a USA citizen. You still support your country from abroad, you still pay taxes and your voice still matters.
Living abroad doesn’t take away my rights or responsibilities as a United States citizen.
And though voting from overseas can feel a bit overwhelming, it’s actually remarkably simple.
Here’s How to Vote from Abroad:
1. Request your ballot
Overseas voters need to request a ballot every calendar year they want to vote.
Just go to www.votefromabroad.org and follow the prompts to fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) form. Most states can send your ballot to you by email, so be sure to check the box to have your blank ballot sent to you by email so it won’t get lost or delayed in the mail. The FPCA is just one page and covers you for all the elections in a calendar year (primary, general and special elections).
Note: (It’s best to use a newer browser like Edge, Firefox or Chrome for the FPCA – Internet Explorer has a problem with some elements of the website.)
You’ll have to print it, fill it out, scan it and email it to your local election official. It’s a bit odd, but I just sent it an email that said “Hello, Attached is my absentee ballot request. Thank you!” I’m sure you can do the same. (Check out a state-by-state voting guide to look up deadlines, submission rules and find your local election officials.)
Note 2: don’t have a scanner? Use a scanner app on your phone. I use scannable and have never stressed again about my printer’s faulty scanner.
2. Complete your ballot
The next step according to voter emails? “Print out your form, SIGN it and send it to your local election official.”
Easy enough, but here’s a bit more explanation:
Your ballot will come with a handy checklist to make sure you’ve done everything necessary to vote from abroad. Print that out also so you can go step-by-step. In your envelope you’ll have: 1) an Identification Envelope/Statement of Voter signed by you 2) your ballot. Note that your ballot cannot be counted if required information on the Identification Envelope/Statement of Voter is not completed.
Then, fix the return envelope page (printed as number 10, 6” x 9” template size most likely) onto the front of your return envelope. I used glue and tape, it’s fine.
You’ll still have to pay for postage, being out of the United States, but they still want their official return envelope cover so just go with it.
And that’s it!
Along with your ballot you’ll be given a unique PIN to follow your absent voter’s ballot online (here) and find out when your ballot was received and when it was counted.
As for deadlines:
In order for your ballot to be counted, the ballot must be submitted for mailing by 12:01 a.m. on the date of the election and the voted ballot must be received by the county board of elections within 10 days after the election.
■ You may not return your absent voter ballot to your polling place or transmit your ballot by electronic means (fax or email).
■ Ballots received late cannot be counted.
And if you waited too long and now you’re thinking it’s too late. It may not be!
You can vote immediately by using the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (or FWAB). The same ballot return deadlines apply, but you essentially side step the ballot request and go immediately to the vote.
For more information about using a FWAB, go to www.democratsabroad.org/fwab