Wherever you are, help is at hand. The Local has teamed up with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), which supports US citizens living abroad to vote absentee.
Hopefully, you’ve already requested your absentee ballot – that’s the crucial first step, so do it right now if you haven’t already. You still have time – and every state allows you to receive your ballot by email.
Once your ballot arrives, don’t hang on to it! Here are four reasons to return your ballot the moment it arrives in your hands – or your email inbox.
1. To make sure your voice is heard
Are you one of the three million Americans abroad who is eligible to vote? Want to be certain your voice will be heard? Then, return your ballot immediately! Turnout among eligible overseas voters was only 6.9 percent in the 2016 US election – and even lower for the 2018 mid-terms.
Maybe you’ve got lost in the voting process? Don’t worry. If you’ve requested a ballot but haven’t received it, ask your election office about its status. Hoping to save yourself some time by voting by email? See the map below to check your options for returning your ballot (or your FWAB – more on that below) in your state – by email, fax or mail.
2. For peace of mind amid the pandemic …
Need or plan to return your ballot by mail? You have even more reason to act immediately. You can contact your local post office about possible delivery delays due to Covid-19.
So, what if your state only allows mail-in ballots and you’re worried about delays? FVAP suggests seeing if you can send your ballot by diplomatic pouch from a nearby Embassy or consulate.
You may also want to check the latest list of countries to which the United States Postal Service (USPS) has suspended mail due to the pandemic.
The final recommended vote-by-date from abroad is October 13. But why leave it so long? If you want to feel sure your vote will count, return your ballot now!
3. To get your “I Voted From Abroad” sticker!
Voting absentee doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting one of those “I Voted” stickers. In fact, as an American abroad who played your part in the democratic process, you can get a special version reading: “I Voted From Abroad”.
You can display it on social media to let your friends and family know you voted. Perhaps your sticker will even motivate others to vote too.
4. Because you have a ready-made back-up plan
Are you running out of time? You can’t always count on everything working out as you expect. But when it comes to voting as an American abroad, you get a ready-made back-up ballot – so even if your requested ballot doesn’t arrive, you can still vote.
It’s called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Use this if your regular ballot doesn’t reach you in good time. A few states may allow you to vote via FWAB even if you haven’t already applied for a regular ballot.