Americans Can Vote Wherever They Live

Why should I vote?   “The best public policy decisions are formed when there is a diversity of backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives represented at the policy-making table. Voting is fundamental to our representative democracy, and your civic participation is critical to our success as a state.”   Alabama Sec of State Website

Ready to begin your voting from overseas?  “Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.”  Keith Ellison

  1. Register TODAY to vote via Absentee Ballot Request . The November 3rd General Election will be here before you know it, 98 days and counting.  Also, by registering now you can avoid any registration problems that can occur.
  2. Request to receive your ballot electronically (and see if your state lets you return your forms and ballots by email or fax
  3. Follow up to make sure you are registered.
  4. Ballots are sent out 45 days before the General election.    If you are registered and don’t receive your ballot within 30 days of the election, no worries, you can vote via a Federal Write In Ballot 
  5. Don’t wait to return your ballot. Be proactive to make sure your ballot is received before your state’s deadline. Return your ballot as soon as possible. Each state determines the method of voter material transmission – email, fax, web portal, online, phone voter app, or mail.   Your local Election Official is available to answer your questions.

Common Questions About Absentee Voting

Q: Do all states have the same election rules and deadlines overseas voters?                          A: States have different steps in regard to how and when voting forms are returned. FVAP.gov is a very good source to find state-specific guidelines.

Q: Can I vote in person at a local embassy/consulate?                                                             A: No, embassies and consulates are not polling places, but they can help you fill out forms and send your ballot to your election office.

Q: When are absentee ballots counted?                                                                                    A: Absentee ballots submitted in accordance with state laws are counted for every election. In a close election, the media reports that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots are counted in the final totals for every election — and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.

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 U.S. citizen but have never resided in the United States?      A: A growing number of states now allow U.S. citizens 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.

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.

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

What can you do to avoid setbacks when voting absentee during the coronavirus pandemic?  If you received your blank ballot electronically or completed a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, but find your country’s postal operations are disrupted and your state only permits mail-in ballots, we encourage you to consider the following steps:

  1. Determine the operating hours of your nearest embassy or consulate, and how they will accept your completed ballot package for return to the U.S. via diplomatic pouch.  The completed ballot package must include U.S. postage on the outer envelope unless it has a postage paid indicia such as the one on the envelope template located here.  Be prepared, some Embassies websites are warning that “it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by diplomatic pouch”.
  2. You may also check the status of commercial carriers, if election officials in your state will accept completed ballots sent by private carrier.  If this option is available, please keep in mind that the additional shipping fees are your responsibility.

Help is available if you have any questions ~ The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world. FVAP is tracking the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). They are in communication with state election offices, and other federal agencies to bring you up-to-date information on state election date changes and mailing delays.  Ensuring Service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens can vote — from anywhere in the world.

The FVAP customer service center remains available to voters and election officials. Hours will continue to be Monday – Friday, 7:30AM – 4:00PM EDT and can be reached by phone at 1-800-438-8683 or by email, vote@fvap.gov.

National Association of Secretaries of States (NASS) members are committed to assuring that all qualified American citizens can have the right to vote. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also working to assess and update contingency plans, provide resources and guidance, and update voters on the latest information. You can read the NASS Open Letter outlining efforts overall here.

Further, election officials work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), state public health departments and other relevant agencies to disseminate pertinent information.   NASS has created a website called “Can I Vote”, that is filled with information to help both domestic and overseas voters.

“It is critical for all Nevada citizens living outside of the U.S. to have the opportunity to participate in the election process. I am especially proud of Nevada’s Effective Absentee System for Elections or EASE – an entirely online program for military and overseas voters that seamlessly integrates voter registration and electronic ballot delivery and marking for a hassle-free voting experience. By making the voting process simple, accessible and secure, we can ensure that those Nevadans living overseas are able to exercise their right and their responsibility to vote.”  Barbara K. Cegavske, Nevada Secretary of State

YOUR VOTE IS YOUR VOICE     “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

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 https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote 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 votingfromabroad@gmail.com
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