Voting

“I voted” stickers in English and Spanish, Virginia, USA, November 2014. (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe photo.)

The absentee voting process is designed to allow citizens who will be away from their local polling places on election day to vote through mail. Most Americans who reside abroad are eligible to vote in U.S. elections.  Eligibility depends upon the laws and regulations of your state of residence in the U.S.

If you want to vote from abroad, you must send in a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials every year – even if you have previously voted from overseas – and every time you change your name, physical address, or email address.  Use the FPCA to request an absentee ballot and to register to vote if you are not currently registered.  The easiest way to fill out this form is to use the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Online Voting Assistant, which will walk you through the process of requesting your absentee ballot and/or registering to vote.

Most states now allow you to send the FPCA electronically to your local election officials, but others still require you to print and mail in a hard copy.  The Online Voting Assistant will tell you which method(s) your state permits.

The fastest way to get your absentee ballot is to request electronic delivery.  Depending on the specific rules of your home state, electronic delivery may be via fax, email, or online download.  Remember to include your email address or fax number on your FPCA.  Otherwise, your ballot will be mailed to you.

All states now offer a way to verify registration.  This is often done by an online verification website or by calling your local election official.  This helps confirm you are properly registered and on the list to receive absentee ballots.  There is a link at fvap.gov to the available state voter registration verification websites.

Overseas voters are eligible to vote in all regular, primary, and special elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives).  Some states allow overseas voters to vote in state and local elections depending on the voter’s status.

States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office (President, U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives) and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections.  Returning your completed ballot as quickly as possible will ensure it reaches your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

International mail from Chile to the United States generally takes 2-4 weeks.

You can also drop off your FPCA or completed ballot in person at our Embassy, and we will mail it to the United States for you free of charge via our Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)  Mail sent through our DPO generally takes 20 days.  If you would like to send your FPCA or ballot through DPO, use a printable postage-paid voting return envelope.

After you send in your completed ballot, you can confirm receipt by your local elections officials online by visiting your state’s election website.

If it is already within 45 days before Election Day and you have not yet received your ballot, fill out and mail in an emergency write-in ballot:  the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). You can also drop off your FWAB in person at the embassy and we will mail it to the United States for you via Diplomatic Post Office (see above).

For more information, please see: Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad.

Please keep in mind that you cannot register to vote or cast your ballot at the U.S. Embassy.