Just because you are overseas doesn’t mean you can’t participate in elections. Most U.S. citizens, age 18 or older, are eligible to vote absentee for federal office candidates. Some states also allow overseas citizens to vote for state and local candidates and referendums.
Legal voting from abroad is a relatively straightforward process, although it will require some advance planning on your part. You’ll need to:
- Register to vote in your state jurisdiction
- Complete and submit an absentee ballot
The process to register to vote and request an absentee ballot is simple, and everything you need is available through the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). First, download the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) here. You’ll need to send this to your local election official’s office. Check out Voting Information Center or the FVAP website to find contact information for your local elections authority. Be sure to note relevant deadlines for your state and allow plenty of time to register, request your ballot and submit your absentee ballot. The Center for Vulnerable Voters Voting Information Center has important deadlines listed by state.
Last, return your ballot using the guidelines provided by your local election authority. If you don’t receive your ballot in time, there’s a fallback option. You can complete a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and return that to your jurisdiction’s election authority.
IMPORTANT: U.S. citizens abroad must submit a new FPCA each year to vote in U.S. elections. Again, advance planning is critical to ensure your vote is received and counted. Submit your FPCA early in the year and your ballot materials well in advance of election deadlines.
The FVAP website will guide you through the process. Do be aware you can also obtain an FPCA form from a U.S. Embassy.
Returning Your Materials
You can always return your FPCA by mail. Regulations for other options vary by state, but many also accept fax or email. You can find more information on your state’s instructions using the Voting Assistance Guide.
Many states have websites to verify voter registration. to check your status, start with the FVAP website’s directory of state voter registration verification websites.
Other Helpful Links
2022 Primary Elections by state and territory
U.S. Embassy and Consulate Contact Information
Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) Reference for State Instructions