According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, only about 4.7% of eligible overseas American citizens vote while abroad. 2020 is the year of the coronavirus pandemic and the ease of voting overseas has been immensely diminished. The pandemic has caused inconveniences such as mail services worldwide to be interrupted and some embassies to be closed or providing minimal services. These disruptions have caused all voters to be required to go above and beyond the call of duty to cast their vote and make sure it’s counted.
Register and Request
The first step is to check the voter registration deadlines in your state, complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and submit it to your local election officials. The FPCA is both your voter registration and ballot request. This application must be submitted each year to vote in U. S. elections. I have a reminder set on my phone to do this yearly while living overseas. It is advised to request ballots be received by email to meet deadlines. By federal law, ballots must be made available to overseas voters electronically when requested.
Fill Out and Send Ballot
When using the FPCA, you are ensured that your state will send your ballot at least 45 days before the election. If possible, return your ballot by email. This option is not available in every state, my home state, the great state of Texas included.
If you have to return your ballot by mail, like us, do it as soon as possible. Most embassies should provide mailing service by diplomatic pouch, but check the expected delivery dates. Due to mailing delays, some embassies are quoting delivery times taking six weeks or more and with that timeline, you don’t want to risk missing the deadline to receive ballots. You have the option of sending your ballot via international mail or express services such as FedEx or DHL. The key is to get it done ASAP.
After sending your ballot, it is key to follow up with your local election official to ensure your ballot was received and counted. Some states are giving the option of tracking your ballot online. You can find the information for your local election official here.
Have a Backup Plan
If you have not received your ballot or your ballot will not be received by the deadline you have the option of sending a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot which is the backup plan for overseas voting citizens.
You deserve to have your vote counted while serving, working and/or living overseas. Do not let pandemics, mail disruptions, or traveling restrictions stop you from exercising your American right to vote. The country is depending on you.
Have you voted this year? How did it go for you? Please leave a comment below sharing your experience.
Hugs and love,