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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

US midterms: With a month to go, have you registered to to vote?

The November midterm elections are almost here and if you're a US citizen, you need to register and request a ballot to vote.

US midterms: With a month to go, have you registered to to vote?
Did you know that some US states allow you to submit your ballot electronically? Graphic: FVAP.gov

Recently The Local held an online poll to ask our American readers about their obstacles to voting absentee from abroad.

In partnership with the Federal Voting Assistance Program, we address some of the most common concerns that were identified.  

What am I voting for in November? 

When we polled our readers, 15 percent of them said they ‘didn’t feel motivated to vote’. However, the midterms involve a great deal of change. As we noted in our last piece, in November 2022 all the seats in the US House of Representatives are up for election, in addition to a third of the Senate. Additionally, 36 state governors will be elected, as well as 30 state attorney-generals. 

These are all positions with the legislative power to make important decisions on a local, state or federal level. Those that are elected will play a real role in shaping what the future looks like for all of us in areas such as health, education, the economy and civil rights. 

Voting in the 2022 midterm elections is easy. Request your ballot now

How do I know if I’m eligible? 

If you’re a US citizen and over the age of 18 years, you are eligible to vote. 

Put simply, if you could vote in the US, you can vote from abroad. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know when you will return to the US, or if you plan on never returning – this is a right that you don’t lose. 

What matters for each individual election is that you are registered to vote. All states and territories require that this is done before a certain deadline, varying from state to state. 16.67 percent of readers polled felt that ‘the deadlines can be too confusing’ – to help voters with this, the FVAP website has quick links to the deadlines for each state. 

How do I register to vote? 

Almost a quarter of readers (21.67 percent) told us that they ‘don’t know how to register’.  Luckily, the process is simple and easy to complete. First, visit the FVAP website. There, you can use FVAP’s Online Assistant to register with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) – a very brief process as you only need a few personal details.

The FPCA is also how you request your ballot. Once you complete the form, print, sign, send in the FPCA to you election office and your ballot will be on its way to you!

Some states allow you to email or fax your FPCA to their electoral authority. Check what your state allows using the graphic below.

Source: FVAP.gov

How do I fill out my ballot? 

Regardless of which state electoral authority will count your vote, all absentee ballot papers come with clear instructions for filling them out – such as writing details legibly, using block letters. You should also follow any specific instructions for sealing the ballot and signing the required affidavit. This last part is important – it’s how electoral officials verify your ballot so that it can be counted. 

Find out how the Federal Voting Assistance Program makes voting from abroad easy for US citizens

How much time should I allow to post my ballot? 

This was identified as one of the main concerns for many of our readers – some 46.67 percent of readers identified that ‘mail is unreliable’. However, as long as ballots are sent in good time – at least two weeks before the election – you should avoid running into any issues.

Some states even allow you to submit your mail by fax or email, as shown in the graphic at the head of this article. 

It’s never been easier to vote from abroad. Photo: Getty Images

How do I know whether my ballot has been received? 

You can check to see whether your ballot has been received by contacting the electoral authority in the state that you are voting in. 

Again, FVAP makes this process easy. By selecting your home state on the website, you can either make an email query, or if the state has an online system, you can use it to check if the ballot has arrived and been processed. 

What happens if I don’t receive my ballot?

If you have not received your ballot in a timely fashion, you do have a backup – the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) allows you to vote. Simply input your state and local jurisdiction and follow the steps. Just make sure you send your FWAB so that it arrives before the deadline for your particular state’s electoral authority – these are easily found in the FVAP Voting Assistance Guide by clicking on your state.

The 2022 midterms are an opportunity for every eligible US citizen to help decide the future direction of the communities they have strong links to. 

Don’t delay – get registered to vote using FVAP’s free Online Assistant today and make sure your vote arrives in time

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TRAVEL NEWS

How you to save money travelling by train in France

Travelling by train is one of the best ways to see France, as well as being better for the planet than flying or driving. However, train tickets don't always come cheap - here is a current list of the railcards and offers that can cut the cost.

How you to save money travelling by train in France

Railcards are the most common way to cut the cost of a ticket. In some cases, the card can even pay for itself in one journey. France’s rail operator SNCF has a range of cards available for everyone from impoverished students to regular business travellers with an expenses account to burn.

But if you’re not a regular traveller there are also a range of offers plus cheaper services to opt for.

READ ALSO Millions of train tickets go on sale in France for Christmas holidays

Liberté card

This one’s really for business travellers, who use the TGV or Ouigo and Intercite trains regularly. And it comes with a price to match – €399 for a year (€379 for anyone lucky enough to work for a company that is part of SNCF’s Contrat Pro plan). 

Holders can enjoy fixed, destination-based fares for business travel in France and beyond, with a card that guarantees cardholders 60 percent off SNCF’s Business Première fares when travelling standard class, and 45 percent off Business Première fares when travelling 1st class. 

Plus, there’s 30 percent off for you and an accompanying adult plus 60 percent off for accompanying children with SNCF’S Avantage fare.

Max Senior

Regular rail travellers aged 60 and over, who use TGV, InOui or Intercite trains at least twice a month can take advantage of this €79-per-month railcard that covers the cost of all standard-class travel outside peak hours from Monday to Friday.

The card is valid for all routes in France and to Luxembourg and Freiburg im Breisgau. You can use the card to book tickets from 30 days before departure right up to the last minute.

READ ALSO Yes, train travel from France across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

Avantage Senior

Those aged 60 and over who travel by rail less regularly can buy a €49 Avantage Senior card that offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

It also offers a 60 percent discount on tickets for up to three accompanying children aged between 4 and 11.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

Max Jeune

A similar offer to the Max Senior deal is available for regular rail users aged between 16 and 27 who use TGV, InOui or Intercite trains at least twice a month. This key difference is that this €79-per-month railcard covers the cost of all standard-class travel outside peak hours seven days a week.

The card is valid for all routes in France and to Luxembourg and Freiburg im Breisgau. You can use the card to book tickets from 30 days before departure right up to the last minute.

READ ALSO UPDATED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Avantage Jeune

Those aged 12 to 27 who travel by rail less regularly can buy a €49 Avantage Jeune card that offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

Max Actif and Max Actif+

The Mon Forfait Annuel Télétravail pass is basically a season ticket, but for people who don’t travel every day. It’s ideal for part-time or remote workers, but can be used by anyone who has semi-regular train trips. 

Anyone who travels between two and three times a week on the same route can buy a Max Actif pass and travel 250 or times on the same line all year, weekdays only. The Max Actif + is basically the same, but for people who travel four to five times a week, and gives 450 journeys with no weekday limit.

Prices vary depending on the route you travel – full details are here

Weekly or monthly rail cards

Speaking of season tickets, you can also buy first or standard class rail cards that last a month or a week that allow unlimited daily travel, and tickets for €1.50 or less (via SNCF Connect or Trainline) for single or national routes.

Avantage Adult

For anyone aged between 27 and 59, a €49 Avantage Adulte card offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

It also offers a 60 percent discount on tickets for up to three accompanying children aged between 4 and 11.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

For more information on railcards available in France, click here

READ ALSO Tourists and locals: Paris Metro tickets, passes and apps explained

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