Here’s Your Guide To Voting As An American Abroad

By Mitti Hicks


With an estimated 3 million Americans living abroad, voting while living outside of the United States is a lot easier than you may think. With the midterm election just weeks away, here’s how to ensure that your voice is heard on November 6.


Absentee voting basics

U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older and living abroad can vote for federal offices including President, Senator, and Representative.

In some states, U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older and were born abroad but who have never resided in the United States are eligible to vote absentee.



U.S. citizens can receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or internet download, depending on the state they are eligible to vote in.


The earlier you register and request your ballot, the better. Early registration ensures that you will receive your ballot in time for the election.


Each year, be sure to submit a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials, which will confirm your eligibility to vote. Your name will be put on a list to receive an absentee ballot for any elections held that calendar year.


Once you receive the absentee ballot

Forty-five days before November’s general elections, your state will send you a blank ballot electronically or via mail at the address you provided on your FPCA, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.


In general, ballots will be mailed out 30 days before primary, special, and run-off elections.


Returning your ballot

Overseas voters have a number of options for returning completed ballots. You can submit it by mail, or drop your completed ballot to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for return to the United States. You can also send it via fax, email, or Internet.


If you didn’t receive a ballot

If you have not received your ballot 30 days before an election, cast a backup vote using the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.


If your regular absentee ballot arrives after submitting an FWAB, you should still fill it out and return it. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot does not reach local election officials by your state’s deadline. This will not invalidate your vote or result in casting two votes.

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Mitti Hicks

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