Here are three simple steps to exercise your civic duty and vote using an absentee ballot in the forthcoming presidential election. Whilst it is fast approaching November 8th, it may sneak up on you a little faster if you’re off enjoying yourself abroad. The last thing that you’ll want is to wake up on November 9th to a hangover that won’t go away for at least 4 years.
As an expat, traveller, or student abroad, voting from overseas isn’t just as simple as showing up at a ballot booth. As always, in true bureaucratic form you need to jump through a couple of extra hoops to make sure that you can cast your ballot for the 2016 presidential election (or any election for that matter). Luckily enough for some states all of this can be completed online. Let’s hear it for technology!! And for those states who are leaning towards the land of the Luddites you’ll find it a little more onerous to cast your vote, but don’t let that deter you.
Register to Vote
Regardless of if you’re at home or abroad, the first step to voting is registering to vote. Although some states have you covered already with automatic registration (Way to go Oregon!). It’s a fairly straight forward process check out the Federal Voting Assistance Program website fvap.gov for full details.
Request your absentee ballot
As you’ll be abroad when voting, you’ll need an absentee ballot specifically for overseas voters. Since you’re requesting an absentee ballot, this does require you to think a few months in advance of the election to make sure you have it in time for November 8th. First, head to fvap.gov to figure out when you need your ballot in by for it to count. As with all form filling exercises there are cut off dates, some much sooner than others, just check out Alaska, it’s in 5 days time!! October 9th!
Here’s a downloadable version of the form, although you can complete it online. Follow the instructions and, hey presto, you have set the wheels of democratic bureaucracy in motion. Now sit back and wait for your ballot to arrive.
Here are two examples of registration dates. Check out the interactive map to see your State’s deadlines.
|STATE||REGISTRATION||BALLOT REQUESTED||BALLOT RETURN|
|Minnesota||Received by November 8, 2016||Received by November 8, 2016||Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016|
|Alaska||By Mail: Postmarked by October 9, 2016
By Email or Fax: Received by October 9, 2016
|Request Mail Ballot: Received by October 29, 2016
Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016
|Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 8, 2016
Return by Online or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Receive and Return your Ballot
Thanks to the advances in technology receiving your ballot can be done electronically now, so you can easily get it through email instead of international postal madness. You’ll receive your blank ballot that you can print out and fill out or, if, again, you’re one of the lucky ones, your state has already allowed electronically returned ballots.
Again, if you do have to submit a hard copy of your ballot, you can follow your State instructions, or stop by your nearest Consulate or Embassy.
Now get online at fvap.gov and get on this! The future of America is in your hands. (No pressure!)
If the above hasn’t gotten you all excited about voting, check this video out to really get you worked up!