How Do I Vote if I Live Abroad?

The future of your country, and state, lies in your hands and voting from abroad is much easier than you think. While in the past you were required to hunt down paperwork if you lived abroad, today, completing forms online, printing them and mailing them to the U.S., is the new voting norm for expats and for those in the uniformed services overseas. 

Be aware that the 2020 presidential election will be here before we know it.  But you don’t have to wait to make your voice heard until Tuesday, November 3, 2020. In fact, you can start right now in the November midterm elections. Some states and municipalities will have elections on November 5, 2019. Primary elections dates vary by state, but the first is in February. Depending on the state you are registered in, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. Go to the Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) website to complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), print and sign the form and return it to your local election office in the United States.

The U.S. embassy in Spain, for example, recommends that overseas U.S. citizens in their country get in the habit of completing FPCAs each January. If you request electronic delivery and include your email address or fax number, you’ll receive your blank ballot 45 days before general and midterm elections and generally 30 days before special, primary, and run-off elections for federal offices.  Most states now have voter registration verification websites, and many offer a means of tracking the status of your registration and ballot. And if you are looking for information regarding Latinos and Spanish speakers in the election process, check out the Voto Latino website for valuable information.

Here’s an easy breakdown on how to vote if you live abroad:

First Step: Register to Vote

If you are already overseas and have not registered to vote yet, just visit the FVAP website, and complete a voter registration form online. Then mail it back to them asap. 

Second Step: Apply for an Overseas Ballot

US_students_overseas vote from abroad

Once you’re registered to vote, there are two ways to get your ballot, the fast way and the slow way. 1) Fast: Go to the Federal Voter Assistance Program website, and do it all online All U.S. citizens can receive their blank ballots electronically. 2) Slower: You can apply for an overseas ballot via your state’s election office by mailing in a form, having the ballot sent to you, and then mailing it back to the U.S.

Third Step: Fill out the Ballot and Mail back to the U.S.

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After you have applied for a ballot, return to the FVAP website and click on the state you’re registered to vote in to get specific state information. Then download and print the PDF ballot forms. You can then hand write your answers as well. Next, put your ballot in an envelope, slap some postage on it, and send it by mail. 

Fourth Step: Celebrate…You’ve Just Voted from Abroad!