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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Can you guess how many Americans abroad voted in the last US midterms?

Across Europe there are many Americans living and working, enjoying the lifestyle, sights and culture that their adopted home has to offer. However, things don’t stand still back in the United States.

Can you guess how many Americans abroad voted in the last US midterms?
It's never been easier to request your overseas ballot. Photo: Getty Images

The US is only months away from the 2022 midterm elections, and for US citizens abroad, voting is easier than you think. Here’s how to have a say in the future of your hometown, state and country.

What are the midterms, and why do they matter?

Unlike the Presidential elections, the midterm elections determine state representation in Congress and a number of state-level offices – this year all of the seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, 36 state governors and 30 state attorney generals will be elected by the people. 

The results of the midterms can have a large impact on the make-up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, changing the kinds of laws the governing administration is able to pass in the next two (the term of a representative) to six (the term of a senator) years.

As we have seen in the news recently, such laws can have significant implications for the rights of friends and family in the United States. 

This year, the US midterm elections are held on the 8th of November. 

For U.S. citizens living overseas who want to have a say in the future of their hometown, city and state, it is important to know how to navigate the absentee voting process for midterm elections. 

However, voter turnout from overseas is traditionally very low. According to the 2018 Overseas Citizen Population Analysis Report, only 13.9% of eligible voters from Germany participated in the last midterm elections, while in France, only 4.9% voted. 

U.S. citizens abroad who did not return a voted ballot reported having difficulties completing the process, or not being able to get their ballot in time to vote. We’re breaking down the absentee voting process into two, straightforward steps you can follow to make sure you have plenty of time to send your ballot back to the States — no matter where you’re voting from.

The 2022 midterm elections are approaching – time to request your absentee ballot.

Requesting your online ballot only takes minutes. PhotoL Supplied

How can I vote in the midterms from overseas?

Whereas many Americans located in the United States only need to show up on Election Day to cast their vote, the process begins earlier for U.S. citizens living abroad. As voting for American citizens abroad is largely conducted via post, the process has checks and balances to ensure the security and integrity of the vote, which means that you need to begin the process far in advance. 

Your first step should be to visit the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, to start the process of registering to vote and requesting your absentee ballot. 

“It’s incredibly easy to vote absentee (and I would argue even easier than voting in person). The city clerk of the last US town you lived in is your lifeline. Mine even emailed me a few weeks back reminding me to register to vote for the upcoming elections this fall.”   – Hannah Houseworth, Michigan, now in France

Their Online Assistant will help you through the process of registering, if you are not already, and filling out your ballot request, or Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)– which takes around two minutes to complete. When filling out the form, you can select the option to receive your blank ballot electronically to speed up the process.

From there, you’ll send your FPCA to your state’s election office by mail, fax or even email, depending on your state’s submission guidelines. FVAP recommends submitting your FPCA by the 1st of August.

If you would like further reminders and tips on absentee voting, you can sign up for email alerts here

Select your state to see specific guidelines and deadlines for absentee voting forms.

No matter where they are in the world, U.S. citizens can vote absentee in midterm elections. Photo: Getty Images 

The second step is to vote as soon as your blank ballot arrives. If you chose to receive your ballot electronically via the FPCA, you should receive it the day ballots are sent by your state’s election office: the 24th of September.  FVAP recommends U.S. citizens living overseas send their voted ballots back by the 24th of October to ensure your election office receives them in time. 

What is my voting residence? 

Your voting residence is the last address you had in the United States immediately prior to leaving for overseas. More information can be found here

“Easy-peazy. California sends me an email telling me my ballot’s on its way, I receive my ballot and voter guide via snail mail, I send the ballot back, and I get an email confirmation when they’ve received and counted it.

In-between all of that, I get friendly reminders from the state reminding me to send my ballot.” – Sarah Saromanos, California, now in France

Is voting by mail from overseas safe and secure?

Voting by mail from overseas is extremely secure, and upon receiving your ballot, there are a number of security measures undertaken not only to protect your vote but to ensure that it matches your identity. 

Furthermore, none of your personal information is saved while using FVAP’s Online Assistant to request an absentee ballot. You can be sure that you are not sharing your private data with any third parties at any point in the process. 

Voting this November is not only secure but there are a number of resources available to help you every step of the way. 

Get started today. Register and request your absentee ballot to vote in US midterm elections with the FPCA.

Member comments

  1. Maybe someone can answer this question. I have lived in Germany for 4 years. I am paid in euro and pay German taxes. I have no income in the US. I don’t want to have to deal with my old state of which I have no relationship with anymore. I also don’t follow their local politics. What happens if I vote using my old address? Will they start to treat me like I live there still? All of my personal mail in the US is sent to my sister’s house in another state but I have never lived there. It is all very confusing.

  2. Thank you for sharing this important information! I hope a much larger percentage of eligible Americans in Frace will vote in the midterms.

  3. If you don’t have any property there, I think you are ok (but I’m not a lawyer). To be safe, I vote in Federal elections, but not State or local. Then, there will not be any tax consequences from voting. You have to file a Federal tax return in any case, and I do.

  4. I’m now a permanent resident of France. Unfortunately I’m a U.S. citizen so I’ll have to pay taxes to the IRS as long as I live. A lot of the tax money is used to fund the endless U.S. wars. Taking care of its citizens have never been a priority. Funny thing is that my U.S. tax return contains 110 pages while my French tax return was only five pages. I will never vote in a U.S. election again. It’s a waste of time!

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POLITICS

REVEALED: What perks and benefits do Norwegian MPs get?

Saunas and free electric car charging are two benefits that have recently been axed for MPs in Norway. So, what other perks come with the job? The Local reached out to the Norwegian parliament's administration to find out.

REVEALED: What perks and benefits do Norwegian MPs get?

In light of the cost of living and energy crises in Norway, Norway’s parliament recently announced it would cut back several benefits that members of parliament have previously enjoyed.

In October, as part of a broader effort to cut electricity expenditure, the parliament announced it would be closing the sauna.

Just last week, as the newspaper Aftenposten reported, the parliament’s administration stated that MPs would also lose the privilege of charging their electric cars for free at work from early 2023.

“The decision was based on the fact that it is reasonable to pay for charging private electric cars at the Storting,” a member of the parliament’s administration told the newspaper.

At the same time, parking in the Storting garage is – and will remain – free of charge.

While MPs are losing some of the benefits associated with their positions, a number of other benefits that they enjoy will remain in place.

The Local reached out to the Norwegian parliament’s administration to get the information necessary to compile the full list of benefits that are available to MPs in Norway today.

Which non-salary work benefits do MPs in Norway enjoy?

In an email to The Local, the administration of the Storting stated that Norwegian MPs have access to a broad range of benefits, from insurance and courses to priority places in kindergartens and subsidized meals at canteens – and many more.

A detailed list of benefits, as provided to The Local by the parliament’s administration, is presented below:

News subscriptions, broadband, and landline telephone: Members of parliament may have their digital news service subscriptions covered, as well as home broadband and landline telephone expenses.

Insurance benefits: The Storting covers a number of different insurance schemes for MPs. As is the case with all employers in Norway, the Storting covers the statutory insurance schemes to which every Norwegian employee is entitled. Such statutory insurance schemes are covered, tax-free, by the Storting.

MPs’ travel insurance, both for work-related and private travel, is also covered. MPs are required to pay tax on 50 percent of the insurance premium related to private travel. 

The Storting also covers group life insurance and personal accident insurance schemes. MPs are required to pay tax on these benefits. 

Courses: The Storting covers course fees and travel, board, and accommodation expenses for MPs enrolling in English language training courses in the UK. Such courses are available during the summer recess for MPs who can document a need to improve their English language skills.

Priority kindergarten places: MPs may also get priority kindergarten places for their children. The Storting does not cover the cost of kindergarten, but having such a priority place can be considered to be a financial benefit for MPs.

Other benefits available to MPs include:

  • Covered expenses of glasses adapted to work on a computer screen.
  • Free access to an in-house training room and gym.
  • The Storting’s canteens are subsidised.
  • MPs may contact the Storting’s in-house pastor if the need should arise. The pastor is employed by the Storting on a part-time basis.

A general overview of MPs’ pay, allowances and other beneficial arrangements can be found here, in English.

How much money from Norwegian taxpayers is spent on covering the work benefits of MPs?

The Local wanted to know how much money is paid to cover these non-salary work benefits of members of the Norwegian parliament in a year.
Unfortunately, the parliament’s administration claims it doesn’t have access to these figures.

“We regret to inform you that we do not have access to these figures. Some of the schemes mentioned above do not apply exclusively to the MPs. For example, the prices are the same for all those who use the parliamentary canteens – MPs, members of staff, guests or journalists – and purchases are not individually registered.

“Since the total amount covers a wide range of different schemes and arrangements, the figures you have asked for would be extremely difficult to itemise,” the administration stated.

Energy saving measures

Furthermore, the administration noted that none of the financial schemes mentioned above would be changed as a result of the rise in energy prices.

“At present, no energy-saving measures have been considered other than the ones that were adopted in October, such as those relating to the charging of electric cars and closure of the saunas.

“When these measures were introduced in October, a series of other energy-saving measures were also implemented.

“This included lowering the in-house thermostats and extending the practice of reducing temperatures and turning off lights and ventilation when areas are not in use,” the administration of the Storting concluded.

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