Embassies and Consulates Help Overseas U.S. Citizens To Vote

Posted by Jack Markey
October 6, 2012
Woman Votes at Board of Elections in Ohio

Your vote counts, wherever you are! If you forgot to register and/or request a ballot, there's still time to cast your vote, but you'll have to act fast. Register and/or request a ballot today using the federal post card application at www.FVAP.gov. Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number) and send it to local election officials in your state. Almost every state lets you send it by email or fax. Once your application is processed, they will send you your ballot via fax or email, depending on your state's rules. Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot. Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state's requirements and deadlines carefully.

From late-September through mid-October, U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe are hosting voting events to help overseas citizens participate in the 2012 presidential elections. These events are a great opportunity for voters to drop off their voted ballots for return to the United States. It may seem early, but it often takes three weeks or more for voted ballots to reach election officials via international mail or diplomatic pouch. To make sure their votes are received and counted, it's important for U.S. citizens abroad to vote and return their ballots as early as possible.

Balloons, bunting, and ballot boxes welcome voters to these events, where consular officers and staff, with help from local U.S. civic and political groups, assist U.S. citizens to register to vote, request absentee ballots, and mail their completed ballots to their local voting precincts in the United States. Voters range from 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by election day casting ballots for the first time, to 80-plus-year-olds who need help with voting forms, to U.S. citizens who never resided in the United States asking how and in which state to register to vote. Sixteen hundred recently showed up to register and vote at an event in Madrid. From Bujumbura to Dubai to Mumbai and beyond, at events large and small, we've helped dozens or hundreds of our fellow citizens to register and vote in this year's election. Contact your local U.S. embassy/consulate to find out about events in your area and instructions for returning your ballot.

If you haven't received your ballot and you're running out of time to meet your state's ballot receipt deadline, go to www.FVAP.gov to complete a federal write-in absentee ballot. Fill it out and drop it off in a sealed, addressed envelope at your local U.S. embassy/consulate, or use international mail if it's fast and reliable from where you are located. If you later receive your regular absentee ballot, vote and return it immediately. Local election officials only count one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if it's received by your state's ballot receipt deadline.

Voters in some states can use the federal write-in absentee ballot as a combined voter registration form, absentee ballot request, and absentee ballot. Some states will let you email or fax your signed, voted ballot back to local election officials. Check instructions for your state at www.FVAP.gov, and contact your local U.S. embassy/consulate for additional guidance and instructions.

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