Did you know that many U.S. elections for House and Senate seats have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters?
US citizens resident abroad are eligible to vote in all Presidential and Congressional elections. If you have never lived in the US, you can probably still register to vote. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia extend voting rights to the children of their former residents who have never resided in the US. For the latest information concerning each state’s position on the subject, please refer to the FVAP website (www.fvap.gov).
Steps to Register as a 2020 Overseas Voter:
- Request Your Ballot:
Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You must complete a new FPCA after January 1 to ensure you receive your ballot for that year’s elections. Completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, Senate, and House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections during the calendar year in which it is submitted. The FPCAis accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.
You can complete the FPCA online at www.FVAP.gov. The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. Return the FPCA per the instructions on the website. FVAP.gov will tell you if your state allows the FPCA to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature. If you must return a paper version, please see below for mailing options, or contact your Voting Assistance Officer.
- Receive and Complete Your Ballot:
States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office, and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.
- Return Your Completed Ballot:
Some states allow you to return your completed ballot by email or fax. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can use international mail, a courier service such as FedEx or DHL, or you may also drop off completed voting materials during regular business hours at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara or at the Consulates General in Istanbul and Adana. Place your materials in a postage paid return envelope (available under “Downloadable Election Materials” on the FVAP website) or in an envelope bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address it to the relevant local election officials.
- Email to fax service by FVAP!
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) will provide an email-to-fax conversion service for voters who have difficulty sending election materials to states that do not accept emailed documents. Get more information online here.
Timeline of the absentee voting process:
|1||Register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) –||January of each year|
|2||Receive your absentee ballot from your State election office –||45-30 calendar days before the election|
|3a & 3b||Return your State absentee ballot to your State;
If you do not receive your State absentee ballot, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) –
|As soon as you receive it|
|NOTE:||If you are at sea or at other overseas locations without access to the military postal system you should send your voted ballots to your election office –||35 calendar days before the election|
|NOTE:||If you are at an overseas military installation with access to the military postal system you should send your voted ballots to your election office –||30 calendar days before the election|
|NOTE:||If you are a stateside Uniformed Service member or an eligible family member you should send your voted ballots to your election office –||11 calendar days before the election|
Researching the Candidates and Issues: Online Resources
Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.
Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown
newspapers online, or search the Internet to locate articles and information.
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov
All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Remember, your vote counts!