Want to Vote Absentee This Year? You Need to Request A Ballot Soon

 (U.S. Air Force/Justin Connaher)
(U.S. Air Force/Justin Connaher)

Election day is just around the corner, are you ready to vote?

Whether you have recently moved or you are deployed overseas, when it's election day, you want your vote and your family's votes to be counted. 

In order to vote in U.S. elections, all overseas U.S. citizens must complete and submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must file a new FPCA each year to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

Its easy to do, just follow these steps to vote in the upcoming U.S. elections:

  1. Register to vote:

    Start by confirming your voter registration with your state. Some states require absentee voters to register annually, so you may need to re-register. Go to FVAP.gov to connect to your state’s voter portal to check your status, register to vote, request a ballot, and more.

  2. Request Your Ballot:

    Most states let you request ballots online. To easily find the proper website you should go to FVAP.gov. You can also complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and mail it to your state. The FPCA lets you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections in the year you submit it. Therefore to vote this year you need to submit a new application. FVAP’s online assistant can help you complete the FPCA.

  3. Receive and Complete Your Ballot:

    States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections.  

  4. Return Your Completed, Signed Ballot:

    Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not.  If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you should make sure you submit it before the deadline to make sure it counts.

Votes from service members and family members overseas often sway the results of an election. To help these voters, every installation or unit is required to appoint a voting assistance officer (VAO). This person is responsible for providing information and for helping service members and their families get any materials they need in order to file an absentee ballot in state and federal elections. You may have learned the name of your VAO in a voter-awareness class or from posters urging you to vote. If not, you can find out the name from the personnel administration office, chain-of-command or family support group.

Although a few states may allow you to fax your ballot, most states will accept ballots by mail only. For overseas voters, this may mean putting the ballot in the mail weeks before an election. This requires taking all the necessary steps to make sure you have a ballot in your hand in time to make that deadline.

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