The United States Postal Service™ is temporarily suspending international mail acceptance for certain destinations due to service impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suspension is due to both foreign postal operation service and the unavailability of transportation.
Until further notice, they have asked US customers to please refrain from mailing items addressed to certain countries. Is your country of residence listed? I know Israel is and many people are not aware. Today Israel Post Office online provides a quote for airmail and express mail to the US. COVID-19 has changed our normal way of living; thus, we do not know if international post offices will suspend mail to the US.
According to the USPS website, “These service disruptions affect Priority Mail Express International® (PMEI), Priority Mail International® (PMI), First-Class Mail International® (FCMI), First-Class Package International Service® (FCPIS®), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®), International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®), and M-Bag® items. Unless otherwise noted, service suspensions to a particular country do not affect delivery of military and diplomatic mail.”
Some major US banks have contacted their overseas customers about the problem of the USPS. Charles Schwab recently emailed their customers: “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has suspended mail delivery to a growing number of countries. Since your account has an address listed in one of these countries, we’ll be unable to deliver important account documents such as trade confirmations, account statements, tax forms, and other materials to you. We encourage you to review your paperless preferences and opt into electronic delivery of account-related documents from Schwab.”
How will this impact you as an overseas voter? If you look at the 10 most populated states in the United States, seven require ballots to be returned ONLY by mail. If one of these states are yours, and you find it difficult to return your ballot, contact your election official and find out how they plan to resolve this problem.
- California (Population: 39,747,267) Ballot return by Mail or Fax
- Texas (Population: 29,087,070) Registration and Ballot return by Mail
- Florida (Population: 21,646,155) Registration by mail and Ballot return by Mail or Fax
- New York (Population: 19,491,339) Registration and Ballot return by Mail
- Pennsylvania (Population: 12,813,969) Registration and Ballot return by Mail
- Illinois (Population: 12,700,381) Ballot return by Mail
- Ohio (Population: 11,718,568) Ballot return by Mail
- Georgia (Population: 10,627,767) Ballot return by Mail
- North Carolina (Population: 10,497,741) Ballot return by mail, email, fax, or online
- Michigan (Population: 10,020,472) Ballot return by Mail
Not all states require ballots or registration to be returned by mail. Many states allow email, fax, online or voter app. Why not all states? That would be a good question to ask them.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is tracking the impact of the coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) on Service members, their eligible family members, and U.S. citizens abroad, when voting absentee during the remainder of the 2020 election cycle. This page and the resources below will provide updates and any current information.
In its role under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), FVAP is working closely with partners at state and local election offices, the United States Postal Service (USPS), the U.S. Department of State (DoS), and within the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide assistance for voters experiencing international mail disruptions, shifting election dates, and other potential effects on the 2020 election cycle related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resources for Voters – FVAP is in communication with state election offices, the Military Postal Service Agency and other federal agencies to bring you up-to-date information on state election date changes and mailing delays. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic occurring around the globe, we recommend that you contact your Military Post Office or local post offices regarding possible delivery delays before mailing your voted ballot. Check the ballot return options in your state.
Here are some important things to remember:
- Submitting your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) early is the best way to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Using the FPCA provides our Service members, their families and overseas citizens with an option to receive balloting materials electronically.
- Using the FPCA early grants voters the ability to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as a backup ballot, if needed.
Important resources for voters –
- Use Federal Voting Assistance Program online assistant to complete your FPCA.
- Use FVAP online assistant to complete your FWAB.
- Fillable PDF forms available here.
- Locate Your Local Election Officials.
- State Voting Guidelines and Election Dates and Deadlines, click on your state.
- United State Postal Service Alerts.
- U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Guidance.
As overseas voters another option is to reach out to the US Embassy located in the country where you currently live, work, or study.
The US Embassy Jerusalem has been extremely helpful and recommends: “Given current conditions, voters are strongly encouraged to submit ballots directly to their home states via email or fax where possible. Where mail-in ballots are the only option, please consider using a courier service to send your ballot directly to your home state to be counted or to the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv.
As a last resort, eligible voters are still permitted to drop off ballots. If you intend to drop off a ballot, please contact the relevant voting team in advance — JerusalemACS@state.gov or TelAvivACS@state.gov — to set up an appointment. Please also be aware of the applicable security regulations for both facilities https://il.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/what-to-bring-to-an-appointment/ For updated information about voting from Israel, visit the US Embassy website.”
Every state has their own voting laws and requirements for returning overseas voters ballots. If your state requires you to mail your overseas ballot and jump hoops, do not fret. “There’s no use talking about the problem unless you talk about the solution.” Betty Williams Your best solution is to reach out to your State’s Senator and/or Representative. Let them know your personal difficulty to vote and their law is impacting on your constitutional act of voting. If other states have successfully allowed email, fax, online, and voter app, why not your state?
Don’t wait until the last minute to register to vote, request your ballot to be emailed 45 days prior to election, and return your ballot immediately. Contact your Election Official if you find yourself having any problems with voting or return of your ballot. “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Your VOTE IS YOUR VOICE.