Andee Goldman
Overseas Voting Consultant

7.8 Percent of Americans Overseas Voted in 2020

Vote absentee from all over the world. (courtesy, FVAP)
Vote absentee from all over the world. (courtesy, FVAP)

Overseas citizens do things a little differently than citizens stateside, and that includes voting. No matter where you live, you can vote absentee. According to FVAP’s 2020 Report to Congress, only 7.8 percenrt of eligible overseas voters voted.   Compare 7.8% to domestic voting of  67%. What message is being sent by overseas voters to Congress, Senate, and the President? 

Top 10 countries where eligible overseas citizens voted and percentage: Canada 8%; United Kingdom 9%; Israel 5%; France 6%; Australia 8%; Japan 8%; Switzerland 7%; Mexico 6%; Germany 25%; and Hong Kong 3%.

       “Talk is cheap, voting is free; take it to the polls.”  Nanette L. Avery  

When asked why not vote in the American election, the responses were across the spectrum ~ “Why should I? I no longer live there”; “I was born in America, but left when I was a child”; “I thought I could only vote for President. You mean I can vote for Congress, Senate, and President?”; “ I don’t have time to go to the Embassy to vote or I have no clue how to vote”; “I don’t have a clue who to vote for”; and so many other rationalizations.

Yes, overseas voters can vote in the Midterm Elections for Federal Offices ~ A total of 469 seats in the US Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election on November 8, 2022. US Senators serve six-year terms, with one-third of them up for election every even-numbered year. US Representatives serve two-year terms, with the entire House up for election every even-numbered year. In order to vote for these offices you must be registered to vote.

Not sure who your US Senator or Representative is and how to contact them?   

“It isn’t about who is the majority in Congress. It’s about, are people educated and enfranchised and resourced enough to participate in the government that purports to be of the people, by the people, for the people? We’re missing the people part—and not because people don’t care, but because we’re not doing our job as a country, as a culture, to make democracy work.” America Ferrera, Actress and Political Activist

YOUR VOTE IS YOUR VOICE. By voting you can hire or fire elected offices. “We are not helpless. The fire is still burning. Please go out and vote this November. Too many people have died and sacrificed so much for us to have our voice, we have to use it. Get in formation. Use our voices to do something great for our children.” Beyoncé, American Singer

Common Questions About Absentee Voting 

Q: How are absentee ballots kept confidential? A: State absentee ballots and the FWAB are designed with a “Secrecy Envelope” allowing for the separation of the voter’s identity from the cast ballot. Local election officials are professionals who go to great lengths in their ballot handling procedures to ensure your vote, and personal information, are kept private.  

Q: Can I vote absentee if I’m a US citizen but have never resided in the United States? A: A growing number of states now allow US citizens, 18 years or older, who were born abroad but never resided in the United States to vote using the address where a parent or other relative is eligible to vote. Current list of states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT,DE, DC, GA, HI, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY   

Q: Does voting affect the tax status of overseas citizens? A: Voting for federal office candidates will not affect your federal or state tax liability. Depending on the laws of your state, voting for state or local offices may affect your state income tax liability. If you are concerned about your state tax status, consult legal counsel.

QWhat is my voting residence and why is it important? A:  You need a voting residence to vote via absentee ballot—even if you are only voting for federal offices. Your election office needs your exact voting residence address to send you the correct ballot for your voting precinct. Your residence is in the state where you last resided, immediately before leaving the United States. It is the address that you considered your permanent home and where you had a physical presence. It’s important to note that the voting residence address you use must be an address in the United States. Forms that list a PO box may be automatically disqualified. This residence may remain valid even if: 1)  You no longer own property or have other ties to that state, 2) Your intent to return to that state is uncertain, or 3) Your previous address is no longer a recognized residential address.

Q: Can I vote in person at a local embassy/consulate? A: No. Elections are run at the state and local level. You must communicate directly with your state to register, request a ballot, and vote. Most embassies and consulates will help you to fill out the FPCA and FWAB, but they are not polling places.

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Thomas Jefferson, Former U.S. President and Founding Father of the U.S.

How to Vote Absentee from Abroad

As a US citizen living outside the country, you can vote absentee while living away from your voting residence. Here’s how:

1. Register to vote and request your ballot in one easy step.

Check your voter registration deadline for the next election based on your state. For the General Election, it’s best to send in the FPCA by August 1. Fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and send it to your election office. Request your ballot to be emailed, and followup to make sure your ballot request has been accepted

                                        FVAP’s online assistant to register and request your absentee ballot was designed to make voting easier. Your Federal Post Card Application is generated specifically to your state’s guidelines so you don’t see any more or less than you have to. Your state will send your ballot to you at least 45 days before the election — a protection not guaranteed when using other forms. 

2. Fill out and send in your ballot when it arrives.

For the general election, you should receive your ballot by early October. Vote and send back your ballot as soon as you receive it. Check the deadline for your ballot based on your state. The recommended vote-by day for the 2022 General Election is October 24, 2022, if you’re outside the US.

If you requested your ballot but haven’t received it, contact your election office to ask about the status of your ballot request. If there isn’t enough time to receive and send back your ballot before the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). It works like a backup ballot. If your official absentee ballot arrives after sending in the FWAB, fill out and send in the official ballot too. Only one will be counted.

After you send in your ballot, you can check if it was received by your election office.

“Voting is as much an emotional act as it is an intellectual one.” Monica Crowley, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the US Department of the Treasury. 

Do you want to make a difference in the future for your children or grandchildren? Register today to vote.  Encourage your children, friends, and neighbors to speak up. 

Get your “I Voted From…” sticker! Just because you’re voting absentee doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the “I Voted” sticker. If you’re voting in US elections from another country, let your friends and family know with your very own FVAP “I Voted From” sticker.  Select the country you’re voting from and share your sticker via social media or email.

By not voting, others are determining who will lead America. “The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, Former US President

Have questions, or need assistance?  Help is available by contacting FVAP (Federal Voting Assistance Program), NASS (National Association of Sec of States),  Republicans Overseas, or Democrats Abroad.  

About the Author
Andee Goldman moved to Israel in 2006 from Las Vegas, Nevada. Since 2008, as a nonpartisan, she has volunteered helping Americans overseas to vote in America's Federal Elections. YOUR VOTE IS YOUR VOICE As an Israeli, she has become a history buff and enjoys sharing her experience and travels around Israel and the world!! Andee is available to answer your voting questions at
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