How Can American Citizens Abroad Vote?

Q. Which overseas Americans can vote, in US elections?

A. All Americans who are US citizens and at least 18 years of age on the date of the election in which they wish to participate.

Q. How do overseas Americans vole?

A. Via absentee ballots received from their state election officials.

Q. Can Americans living abroad vote in federal, state and local elections?

A. In principle, yes. However, some states may impose state tax liability on those who vote in state and local elections. No state tax liability can be imposed for voting in federal elections.

Q. "Federal elections" include which offices?

A. President, Vice-President, US Senators and members of the US House of Representatives. While members of Congress represent individual states, they hold a federal office.

Q. How does one obtain an absentee ballot?

A. By requesting the ballot by mail from the competent local election official, using the Registration and Absentee Ballot Request Federal Post Card Application (known as the FPCA form). The FPCA is available at all US embassies and consulates, via military voting assistance officers, through Democrats or Republicans Abroad, or from American organizations abroad, such as ACA.

Q. I've been away for so long. Where do I register?

A. Federal law (the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) allows citizens overseas to vote in the state where they last resided prior to departing the US, even if many years have elapsed, the voter maintains no residence in the state, and the intent to return to that state may not be certain.

Q. I've never lived in the US but I am a US citizen and want to vote. Where do I register?

A. In the voting district of a citizen parent.

Q. How soon must the FPCA form be sent in to permit voting in the November election?

A. The voter is strongly urged to submit the FPCA form so that it is received by the state election official at least 45 days before the election. Voters not previously registered to vote in the given district should allow 60 days. If in doubt, ask advice when obtaining the FPCA form. Many states accept FPCA forms submitted by fax.

Q. I think that I'm already registered in my state of last residence. Will my voting district automatically male a ballot to me?

A. Not always. To be sure, request a ballot by using the FPCA form.

Q. How will I know my FPCA has been received by my state election official?

A. Local election officials return the small post card portion of the submitted FPCA form, acknowledging receipt of the application and making relevant comments.

Q. Why should I vote? I live so far away.

A. What our country does affects every part of the globe. American citizens abroad, aware of the world around them, should use their experience to vote intelligently.

Q. What if the regular state absentee ballot does not arrive in time?

A. Send in a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Voters who have registered and requested a regular state absentee ballot but have not received the absentee ballot by two weeks prior to the election should fill in and mail a FWAB form, available from the sources of voting materials listed above. If the state ballot is subsequently received, return that as well (some states permit faxing). Only one vote will be counted.

Q. "How can I help other Americans abroad to vote?"

A. Your local American embassy or consulate can furnish a list of organizations working to enlist voters. If your region is insufficiently serviced, request the Voting Assistance Guide and other materials from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). The FVAP is an excellently run, motivated government service which will give all support necessary. FVAP has toll free numbers from a growing number of countries to the United States.

How US citizens can vote while living abroad