Voting from Overseas - April 2016

Make your vote count in 2016

Your vote counts! All states are required to count every valid absentee ballot that reaches local election officials by the deadline. Did you know that many elections for the U.S. Congress have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters?

Register and request your ballot as soon as possible (a) to ensure that you do so in good time and (b) to take part in your state’s primary election, if you wish to.

Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2016 U.S. elections. To do this, use online resources available to you, including:

Send questions to the FAWCO Voting from Overseas Committee ().

1. Request your ballot

You must complete a new ballot request after 1 January 2016 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2016 elections. This allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections, including primaries and special elections, during the calendar year in which it is submitted.

You can complete the form online. The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. We encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email or Internet download, depending on your state). Include your email address on your form to take advantage of the option for electronic ballot delivery, and to allow your local election official to contact you easily if necessary.

Send the registration form/ballot request to your local election official according to the instructions that accompany it. The website will tell you if your state allows the form to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature. If you must return a paper version, see below for mailing options.

The instructions accompanying your form will give the name and contact details of your local election official. It’s a good idea to contact him or her after you’ve submitted the form, to ensure that you are registered.

2. 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.

Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can do so free of charge at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address them to the relevant local election officials.

If it’s more convenient for you, you can also return your form/request or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense. If you send the ballot by post, we recommend you send it registered mail to ensure delivery.

3. If your ballot does not arrive in time, send a write-in ballot.

If your ballot has not reached you by 14 October, go back to the website where you filled out your registration form, and generate a federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB). Complete and submit it as instructed. If your regular ballot arrives after you have sent off your FWAB, vote and send it, too, and let the local election official decide which one to count.

Researching the candidates and issues

Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is 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.


Remember, your vote counts! Your country needs to hear your voice. 

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