Whether you’re heading off for a semester abroad or spending a year working in another country, you’re never too far away to vote. US citizens and dual citizens who are 18 years and older by Election Day have the right to vote from abroad — and we’re here to help you exercise it.
On November 8, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, 34 seats in the US Senate, control over 46 state legislatures, and 36 governorships will be up for grabs. Voting in the midterms is the best chance you’ll have for two years to make your voice heard on tons of important issues, including climate change, bodily autonomy, and student loan policy.
We’ve created this guide to break down how to vote — and make a difference — from abroad, all in three simple steps.
Step 1: Request your ballot
Head to www.votefromabroad.org, your one-stop-shop for registering to vote and requesting your overseas absentee ballot. There, you’ll complete and submit your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), the form overseas voters like you use to request ballots. The website will help you fill out the FPCA and tell you exactly where to send it.
If you’re not registered to vote or need to change where you’re registered, don’t worry: The FPCA doubles as a voter registration form. You’ll register at the address where you most recently lived in the United States.
Pro tip: On the FPCA, mark that you want to receive your ballot by email. That way, you’ll get your ballot quickly and avoid snail-mail delays.
Step 2: Receive and vote your ballot
Once you’ve got your ballot, carefully read the instructions and fill it out as soon as possible. You’ll probably want to vote for all the offices listed on the ballot, especially at the state and local levels— where tons of decisions that impact our future are being made. A Google search of the candidates is a great way to find out where they stand on issues important to you, as is reading news coverage of the races in which you’ll be voting.
Pro tip: Make sure you’ve signed everywhere required, used the right color pen, and put the right envelope inside of the other (if returning voted ballot by postal mail). Each state, and sometimes even county, has different requirements. Human error is a top reason overseas absentee ballots get rejected, so it’s worth taking some extra time to read the instructions and do it right.
Step 3: Return your completed ballot
After you’ve completed your ballot, return it right away. Some states allow overseas voters to return their voted ballots through secure electronic means — like an upload portal, email, or even fax (yes, fax!) — but many require it to be sent by postal mail. You can check your state’s rules and deadlines at www.votefromabroad.org.
If you have to return your ballot by postal mail, you’ll want to make sure you’ve put the correct postage and recipient address on the envelope (the latter will be included with your ballot instructions). If time’s running short, you can also use a courier such as DHL, UPS, or FedEx, but this can get expensive.
Pro tip: Return your voted ballot within 48 hours of receiving it, especially if you have to return it by postal mail. Voting early will not only save you stress and money, it will give you enough time to confirm that your ballot made it and will be counted. Late arrival is another top reason absentee ballots are rejected. Don’t let it happen to you.
And just like that, you’ll have voted from abroad in the November midterm elections! Find state-by-state guidance at www.votefromabroad.org, FAQs, and a chat box, in case you have questions or hit any snags.
Votes from abroad may have proved decisive in the 2020 election outcome — now, with your help, we’re ready to make an even bigger difference in 2022!
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