How to Vote OverseasReading Time: 6 minutes
Last Updated on April 28, 2021
Step-By-Step Voting By Absentee Ballot in the 2020 U.S. Elections
Photo Credit: Element5 Digital
If you’re a US citizen living abroad but are eligible to vote, this post is for you. It will show you step-by-step how to register and vote from overseas.
All of this information is official instruction from the US Embassy in France.
Your #1 resource of information concerning US federal, state and local elections is The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) for US citizens working and residing aboard.
This year, the U.S. Elections will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. In some states voter registration and ballot request deadlines for the November 2020 elections are as early as October 5th. Whether you’re a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, the US Embassy recommends that you complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA-pdf) each year to ensure you’re able to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.
If you have already completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2020 and requested electronic delivery of your ballot, you will be receiving your blank ballot or instructions for how to access your ballot soon if you have not already received it. If you’re not sure about the status of your absentee ballot request you should contact your local election officials in the United Statesor check the status of your registration via your state’s voter registration verification website.
You can get voting assistance from the Embassy in Paris or Consulates General in Marseille and Strasbourg. You can also drop off your completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, at those locations.
If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late. The process is easy — just follow these steps:
1. Register to Vote and Complete the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA-pdf)
Whether you’re a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, you should complete an FPCAto receive your ballot this fall. It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA. Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.
?? The online voting assistant available at FVAP.gov is an easy way to complete the FPCA. It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible. No matter which state you vote in, we encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery. The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print and sign.
2. Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) ASAP!
Some states allow you to return your completed ballot by email or fax. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials:
• You can use a courier service such as FedEx or DHL.
• French Postal Services: You may also use international mail by placing your signed, dated ballot in a properly addressed envelope, bearing sufficient French postage, and mail it from any French post office. General transit time: one week.
• U.S. Mail via Embassy services: You can download the postage paid envelope (see all materials and forms), address it to your county board of elections and drop it off at the:
U.S. Embassy, Paris, weekdays between 9am and 5pm;
Consulate General, Marseille, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2pm to 3pm; or
Consulate General, Strasbourg, Monday to Friday from 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm
All voting materials MUST be placed in a U.S. postage paid envelope and addressed to the appropriate U.S. election office.
You can likewise ask a friend or family member drop off your FPCA at the Embassy on your behalf.
Photo Credit:Paul Weaver