Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad
Voting is Now Easier Than Ever Before:
Now all U.S. citizens can electronically receive their blank ballots. Depending on the state in which you are eligible to vote, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. You just need to go to Federal Voting Assistant Website, complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), print and sign the form, and return it to your local election office in the United States. You can find the (FPCA) form as well as other important information about absentee voting by selecting the state in which you were registered to vote in. On the left hand side of the Federal Voting Assistant Website is an option to select a state, once you do so, all necessary and relevant information regarding the states voting requirements will be presented. Important forms, local election officials, guidelines and other state specific information will be displayed We recommend U.S. citizens living overseas get in the habit of completing a new FPCA each January. And it is useful to list your email address to make it easier for the election officials to reach you if there is a problem. Some states only offer electronic delivery by fax so be sure to include your fax number. If you request electronic delivery, you should receive your blank ballot 45 days before the general and mid-term elections and 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.
Important Note: States are no longer required to automatically send ballots to voters. So any U.S. citizen living overseas should send in a new Federal Post Card Application each year.
Almost all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to cast an absentee ballot in federal elections. Some states allow overseas citizens to vote in state and local elections, as well as for state and local referendums. You can find specific information regarding each state, by selecting your state on the left hand side of the Federal Voting Assistance Website homepage For voting purposes, your state of legal residence is generally the state wherein you resided immediately before leaving the United States, even if you no longer own or rent property or intend to return there in the future. Direct your questions about eligibility to your local election officials once you have selected your state of residency.
Registration/Absentee Ballot Request
To vote from abroad, you must register to vote with local election officials in your state of legal (voting) residence by submitting the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Submit a new FPCA in January of each year, every time you move, change your address, change your email, or change your name. Both the Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Overseas Vote Foundation have on-line assistants to walk you through the process of completing the FPCA and locating the mailing address of your local election officials. You can also pick up a hardcopy of the FPCA and your state’s requirements at the Embassy. Your FPCA can always be submitted by mail and many states accept submission by fax or email. For the particular instructions for your state, please consult the online FVAP Voting Assistance Guide. If you need help completing or submitting the form, contact the Consular Section by email or by calling 01-200-5595.
Receiving Your Blank Absentee Ballot
Blank ballots will be sent out 45 days before a general election and 30 days before primary, special and run-off elections. Depending on your state and your status abroad, you may receive absentee ballots for all elections or abbreviated ballots for elections for federal offices only.
Voting and Returning Your Ballot
Complete your ballot carefully and legibly, and return it to your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline. Send it back as early as possible. Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:
- Local mail – You can mail it yourself through the Slovenian Post. Just remember to purchase sufficient international postage.
- U.S. Embassy – You can drop off your ballot request or voted ballot at the Embassy and we will mail it back for you. It must be addressed to your local election officials and be in a postage-paid envelope. A postage-paid envelope is available on the FVAP web site or through the Consular Section.
- Fax, Email, or Internet – A number of states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots. Consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Voting Assistance Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
- Express Courier Service – If time is short, you may want to consider using a professional courier service such as FedEx, DHL, or UPS.
Using an Emergency Write-in Ballot
Don’t be a passive voter and wait for a ballot that may not reach you in time. If you followed all the right steps but still haven’t received your ballot, you should submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), which can be found once you select you state or here. Write in the candidates of your choice, print it, sign it, and send it to your local election officials. If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and send it back too. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s deadline. Following this procedure will not invalidate your vote or result in two votes being cast.
Role of Local Election Officials
All elections in the United States are run at the state and local level. If local election officials have questions about your form, they’ll contact you. It is smart to send in your form early (ideally, at the beginning of the calendar year, or at least forty-five days before the election) to provide time to process your request and resolve any problems. Once approved, your name will be put on a list of voters to receive absentee ballots.
Verifying Your Registration
Most states now have websites where you can verify your registration. If you are unsure of your voter registration status, or want to confirm that local officials have received and approved your registration, check the FVAP website for a directory of state voter registration verification websites. You can also directly write, email or call your local election officials.
Voting and Taxes
Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect your federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect your state tax liability. Consult legal counsel if you have questions.