Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as U.S. citizens. “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do that is by not voting.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio address from the White House, October 4, 1944

According to the U.S. State Department, in 2014, an estimated 8.7 million U.S. citizens lived overseas. (Source document: U.S. State Dept).   USA today wrote, “As many as 30,000 of the 300,000 U.S. Citizens living in Israel voted in previous presidential elections.” (Source Article: USA Today, 10/31/2012)

The American 2016 election is right around the corner.  November 8, 2016, will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.   A total of 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election.

If you are a US citizen 18 years or older and reside outside the United States, you may vote absentee in the 2016 U.S. Primaries and General Election. Registration requirements vary by state. The best time to register to vote/request an absentee ballot is January of each year, or at least 90 days before Election Day. Depending on the state, some will allow you to register while 17 years old if you are 18 by the election, others require that you are 18 when you register.

Citizens residing outside the U.S. may not arbitrarily choose which State to declare as their legal voting residence. Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the address where you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the U.S., not where you last voted. This residence remains valid even though you may no longer own property, or have other ties to your last State residence, and your intent to return to that State may be uncertain.

Never resided in the U.S.? As of this writing, 37 states* allow U.S. citizens, 18 years or older, who were born abroad, but have never resided in the United States to be eligible to vote absentee. Voting address in the United States will be the last U.S. residence of a U.S. citizen parent. States vary in their voter registration identification requirements, however, most commonly you can use either: 1) the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number (SSN); or 2) a valid state driver’s license.

*Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Colombia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington (State), West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Even though voting is an important privilege, most Americans simply don’t vote, and some of their reasons may surprise you.

Voting Myth – Absentee ballots only count in close elections, so why vote?
Reality “No” – Absentee ballots submitted in accordance with State laws are counted for every election.  The difference is that in a close election, the media reports that the outcome cannot be counted until after the absentee ballots are counted.

“Ballots are counted at the time designated by each State in their election laws”, representative of The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).     According to the Office of the Sec of State of Nevada, “Nevada does count all valid absentee ballots that are received by the deadline (at the County Election office by 7 pm on Election Day). Absentee votes are included in Nevada’s results reported on election night and official results certified by the Nevada Supreme Court.”

Voting Myth – I must vote in person at the local embassy.
Reality “No”-   Since US elections are run at the State level, citizens must communicate with their election officials to register, request a ballot and vote. Overseas Absentee Ballot Request   There are 22 States that allow voting by email.

Voting Myth – Why vote?  It does not matter.
Reality – Federal elected officials do listen. After every election a survey is prepared, which shows where Americans vote. Israel is always on the list. US Vote Foundation 2014 Survey

Elected officials do look at the survey.

“There’s a tendency to think ‘My vote doesn’t matter. Who I vote for doesn’t matter’. But we’ve seen, time and again, that elections have consequences and races, particularly in the Senate, can come down to a few votes. These outcomes determine who controls Congress, the Executive Branch, and appoints Justices to the Supreme Court, all of which can have an enormous impact on the lives of Americans at home and abroad. I encourage all Americans, including expats, to exercise their right to vote,” said Rep. Joe Heck (NV-3), who is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada in 2016.