If you’re an expatriate, chances are you are carefully considering voting in the current election or not. It’s understandable if you chose one way or another. But as a fellow American with no intention of going back any time soon, or possibly ever, I would like you to vote anyway. Not only could the election outcome affect you abroad but it will most certainly affect your family and friends that are located back in the states. This article is not to persuade you into voting or not to but rather a guide to help those who are curious what it’s like voting abroad or actually want to do it.
Now if you are even thinking about voting, you don’t have much time left. I realise this article is a little late as well but I even I didn’t know if I would vote or not in this upcoming election. So if you are reading this, the time to act is now as you only have a few days left.
At this point if you have waited until the last minute to vote, voting by mail is most definitely out of the question unless you plan on overnighting the letter to your local county clerk. Even if you bring it to the embassy or consulate, chances are it could get to your county official late. Diplomatic courier bags have a bad tenancy to take forever in getting places. Fortunately, in today’s modern era of electronics, some states (list below) allow you to vote electronically.]
Here is a list of the states that as of 2012, allow you to vote electronically if you are abroad:
- California (fax only)
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
If your state is NOT listed above, you MUST return your absentee ballot by mail to your local county clerk, you have no other choice. At this point, I highly recommend using an overnight or express service to ensure your ballot gets to where it needs to by November 6, 2012 if you cannot vote electronically. If you do not have an absentee ballot, continue reading as there is a website where you can get it. Never use someone elses blank absentee ballot they downloaded either. Not only might it be for the wrong county you’re registered in (where you last resided in the states) but it will be detected as a duplicate due to a unique barcode causing both ballots to be invalidated.
Whether you plan on voting electronically or by mail (or have no choice one way or another), you should visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov. This website has all the information you need to making your vote count. I would replicate the information onto this post but unfortunately, every state is different procedural wise and I do not want to give you the incorrect information. It is best to visit the website and follow the prompts. Hence why I gave as general voting advice as possible.
A few things to keep in mind:
- This website is for U.S. Citizens abroad ONLY. If you are not abroad, contact your local county clerk for voting information.
- You must be 18 to vote in elections.
- The address you use should be your last U.S. residence address. For me, mine was Fort Collins, ick.
- Election Day is November 6, 2012 and ballots must be received by end of business on this day to be counted.
- A federal absentee ballot is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website if you cannot access your state’s absentee ballot for one reason or another.
- The website again is www.fvap.gov. if you need assistance, contact your closest embassy/consulate by going to www.usembassy.gov.
- This guide was written for the year 2012, if you are voting in a different election year, find a new article!
- Spread the word.