How to Vote For US Elections When Abroad
14 October 2016 | Mri Grout
For a country that doesn’t really acknowledge our votes due to having the fantastic electoral college and totally loyal superdelegates, the USA sure does make it super easy for its citizens to enjoy (the illusion of) voting. One doesn't even have to still have an American address to be eligible to vote. There is literally an option on the official registration and ballot request form to simply describe roughly where your last house was. As in, they even include a base picture of some streets full of empty lots for you to draw on at the bottom. How wicked is that? So for everyone who's living or traveling abroad and wishing they could help America inch into the progressive stage with the rest of the world, here's how you can still vote for US elections when abroad. And for those that were born abroad to US parents, you too can still vote in US elections!…As long as you’re from one of these 37 states.
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1. Send in Your Registration to Vote
The official government site that allows a US citizen to register to vote and request ballots from abroad is the Federal Voting Assistance Program. However, though the process is relatively easy to follow (choose state, fill in form provided, review information, and then print) and despite them claiming that one can email in said form to get the blank ballot quicker, I have yet to find an email address in which to do so (other than tech support). For this reason, I would just recommend registering to vote at Vote From Abroad. Their forms are just as easy to fill in and they actually do supply the appropriate email address for your county. In addition, when you email in your forms, they also let you know when they receive it and when they start to process it. Personally, I received my ballot forms in less than 48 hours. However, for those that wish to stick with the federal website of FVAP, if you do not receive your blank ballots at least 30 days before the election, then fill out a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) form. Regardless of if you email or fax in your voter registration and ballot request form! You STILL have to mail in a physical copy to the board of elections for your county.
2. Wait for Your Blank Ballot Forms to ArriveTime depends on postage obviously. However, if you checked the email preference option when choosing how to receive your blank ballot, they should email it to you as soon as they receive the hard copy of your overseas voter registration for US elections form. For those that emailed in your forms, you can receive your blank ballots before the Board of Elections receives the physical copy of your voter registration. As I stated above, the whole process for me took less than 48 hours.
3. Responsibly Vote Due to Lots and Lots of Research
This is the most important step. THE most important. Otherwise, we'll just keep getting horrible candidates like Trump and Hillary every presidential election until the UK decides to nuke us just to put us out of our misery...if they're still our allies at that point. And yes, I do mean allies for our enemies would definitely just laugh and eat popcorn as they watched us burn. So, here's some things to research to get you started:
- how the electoral college restricts our voting,
- why independant parties can't be built from the bottom up due to stupid state regulations (for example California's moronic Top Two policy), and
- what specific candidates actually desire instead of just what their party does.
5. Mail in Your Votes
There are deadlines in which you have to meet in order for your votes to count. Normally they’re required to be RECEIVED by 17.00 on the day after the election. This deadline can be met with an email or fax of the forms to the appropriate address. However, as with the step in registering to vote, one must also mail in the physical forms of the ballot and they must normally be RECEIVED by 17.00 ten days after the election. For definite dates, you would have to check your state’s guidelines, which can be found here.
Travel Tip #4
Have you managed to vote for a US election when abroad? How did you find the process? Any tips or insights for new overseas voters?