How to Vote in Elections Abroad
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is the official U.S. government website for overseas voters. They provide information on registering absentee for U.S. elections, as well as details of upcoming elections, registration dates and deadlines. Please visit their website at http://www.fvap.gov.
If you have specific questions or need further assistance, you may also contact FVAP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +1-800-438-VOTE (1-800-438-8683).
New absentee voting laws are in effect. You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request. U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election. No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line. Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it.
Last Minute Voter Registration
Visit the FVAP website to register to vote as a U.S. citizen residing overseas. Once you have registered with the state of your voting residence, you will be sent a ballot to vote in the upcoming elections as long as your state’s registration deadlines have not already passed.
Registered to vote, but haven’t received your ballot yet?
States and territories are required to mail ballots at least 45 days before an election. If you have not received your ballot 30 days before the election, you should contact your local election official for assistance. If you still have not received your ballot close to Election Day, you can still vote by using the back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). To use a FWAB, you must:
- Be absent from your voting residence;
- Have applied for a regular ballot early enough so the request is received by the appropriate local election official not later than the State deadline; or the date that is 30 days before the general election; - AND -
- Have not received the requested regular absentee ballot from the State.
NOTE: Always complete and return your absentee ballot regardless of when you receive it, even if you have already submitted a back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Your local election official will ensure that only one of the ballots is counted.
How to register to vote, and request an absentee ballot
To vote in U.S. elections, you must be registered with County officials in the last U.S. state you held residence. To register to vote, please visit the FVAP website and complete the Federal Post Card Application (FVPC). The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories. It will register you to vote, and is also your request for an absentee ballot for all federal elections during the course of the year. An online wizard will help you complete the form.
The FPCA is freely available at the FVAP website.
How to submit Federal Post Card Application (FVPC)
Depending on your state’s voting requirements, you may either send in the FPCA electronically, or mail it to your local election officials. To submit the FVPC by mail, print out the completed FPCA and address the envelope to your local election officials. Overseas voters have a number of options for submitting the FPCA:
- Local mail - Voters may affix sufficient international postage to your ballot envelope and mail it directly.
- U.S. Embassy Pouch/Army Postal Service (APO/FPO) - Official election ballot envelopes can be delivered to the Consulate General serving your area, which will then be forwarded to the appropriate election office. Voters are required to provide an envelope which is addressed to their appropriate election office, and the Consulate will forward this via U.S. diplomatic pouch free of charge. You can also print out and use an envelope with postage-paid markings that is available on the FVAP web site.
- Fax, E-mail, or Internet - A number of states now allow the return of voted ballots via electronic means. Consult the FVAP's Voting Assistance Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
- Express Courier Service - If time is short, you can use professional courier services such as FedEx (not to P.O. Boxes), DHL, or UPS. Check the Overseas Vote Foundation website for information about reduced rates for voters.
Please contact the consulate serving your area for questions about absentee voting:
Featured links from America.gov:
Registering and Voting Absentee
- The Federal Voting Assistance Program - the official U.S. government website for overseas voters.