5 things U.S. citizens abroad should know about voting

Here are FVAP’s top 5 tips for U.S. Military and Overseas Citizen absentee voters:

  1. Know that your absentee ballot counts the same as ballots cast at the poll site. All ballots submitted according to State laws are counted in every election. The media often will report the projected outcome of an election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report the preliminary results or say that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the official totals for every election — and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.
  2. Check your State deadlines, instructions, and options. Each State sets its own deadlines for registering to vote and its options for how absentee ballots are sent to voters. States can also differ in their requirements and deadlines regarding how to complete and submit absentee ballots. Some States require ballots to be postmarked by Election Day while others must receive ballots by Election Day. FVAP.gov has your State’s deadlines and requirements.
  3. Postmark and send your ballot on time.  Every election, States receive some absentee ballots past the deadline for acceptance – but this is easily preventable. Follow your State’s specific deadlines and recommended mailing dates for returning your voted ballot. If you’re a registered military or overseas voter and don’t receive your requested State ballot early enough to submit it on time, you can go to FVAP.gov and use the backup ballot called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Voters who end up receiving a State ballot after submitting a FWAB should still complete and return it, as well. States only count your backup ballot if your voted State ballot is not received by the deadline.
  4. Fill out your ballot and election materials correctly. Many States have specific requirements for signing the envelope or an affidavit enclosed with your ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot to ensure it gets counted.
  5. Check that your voted ballot reaches its destination. If you’re wondering if your vote made it home, check the status of your ballot by selecting your State at FVAP.gov and contacting your election office directly.

Remember:  Military and overseas voters who need to register or request a ballot can do so by filling out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP.gov — by hand or using the online assistant — and sending it to their election office.

For additional information, visit FVAP.gov, email vote@fvap.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).