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Overseas voting in the US General Election

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Overseas voting in the US General Election Empty Overseas voting in the US General Election

Post by Flamingo on Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:51 pm

Request your ballot NOW

Cutoff dates for requesting your ballot vary by state, but are as early as Oct. 3, so don’t put this off. Request your ballot from the last place you were registered to vote, not necessarily the last place you lived. You must submit a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials. The FPCA. serves as both your ballot request and voter registration, and must be received at least 45 days before an election, to allow ample time to process your request and resolve any problems. Once approved, your name will be put on a list of voters to receive absentee ballots. Due to COVID-19, many states are requesting that you verify that you are still living abroad, so fill out the FPCA or verify that you are still eligible to vote on your state’s Secretary of State website.

At a time when both international and U.S. mail services are in a state of disarray, it’s best to avoid them altogether. All states allow fax, email or Internet download for sending your blank ballot to you. If allowed, plan to fax or email your completed ballot back to your county election official. About 20 states require that ballots be returned by mail. See below for more information.

Two websites with tools to help you fill out the FPCA and submit it are http://fvap.gov, which is the official U.S. government site, and http://VotefromAbroad.org, a nonpartisan site created by Democrats Abroad. (One advantage of VotefromAbroad.org is it allows you to capture your signature electronically and email the form directly without having to print it first, although voters in some states, including California and New York, are required to sign by hand in any case.) Both sites also have people available to answer your questions.

If you are not sure you requested your ballot by email, send in a revised ballot request. Make sure to select "Email or online" ballot receipt on the second page. Your Local Election Official will update your information based on the new FPCA. If you’re at all uncertain if you’ve requested this year (during the 2020 calendar year), send in your absentee ballot request form NOW.

Your local election officials will confirm your eligibility to vote and put your name on a list to receive absentee ballots for any elections held that calendar year. They will send you a blank absentee ballot electronically. Complete and return the ballot so it arrives before your state's ballot return deadline.

If you requested that your ballot be sent to you via email, then you should receive it on or before 19 September. If you don’t see an email from your Local Election Official in your inbox, check your junk/spam or promotions folder. Everyone mark your calendar for SEPT. 19th-----if you are an Overseas Voter, your ballot must be sent to you via electronic means (if you so requested) on or before that date.

If you don’t have a printer/scanner, Papeleria Trinidad (across from SuperLake) or iShop (one block east of SuperLake) are good alternatives. Bring the completed PDF ballot on a thumb drive and they will print it. Sign the ballot (usually 2 places) and have them scan it as a PDF. English is spoken.

If you are from one of the following 26 states/jurisdictions, you can return your voted ballot by EMAIL or ONLINE UPLOAD:

AL, AZ, CO, DC, DE, HI, IA, IN, KS, MA, ME, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE*, NM, NV, OR, RI, SC, UT, WA, WV, WY*

*Nebraska voters must get their Local Election Official's approval to return a voted ballot electronically.

*Wyoming is currently setting up its email return system, so please contact your Local Election Official for details.

If you are from one of the following 5 states, you can return your voted ballot by FAX:

AK, CA, FL, LA*, OK

*Louisiana voters must get their Local Election Official's approval to return a voted ballot electronically.

Please note, you can use the email-to-fax service that is offered free of charge to overseas U.S. citizens by the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

IMPORTANT: be sure to format your .pdf as "U.S. Letter" sized paper. Simply email your completed ballot with the required cover sheet to fax@fvap.gov and it will be faxed to your Local Election Officials.

If you prefer, HelloFax is a popular service you can use directly from your computer. It is free for a limited number of faxes.

20 states still require POSTAL BALLOT RETURN. If you live in one of these states then you MUST return your voted ballot by postal mail:

AR, CT, GA, ID, IL, KY, MD, MI, MN, NH, NJ*, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT*, WI

*NJ voters: New Jersey allows voted ballot return by email. The voter must then also return the original by mail.

Given that the postal systems around the world are severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, we URGE YOU TO VOTE AND RETURN YOUR BALLOT AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT. You can aim to get your ballot ready to go by Monday, 21 SEPTEMBER.

Mexico and US Mail alternatives for the above 20 states


Courier Service such as FedEx, UPS or DHL

Your ballot must be enclosed in a ballot envelope. The instructions that come with your ballot will explain how to prepare your ballot envelope. Complete your ballot, put it in the ballot envelope, seal it, make sure to sign the ballot oath, and then put it in the courier service envelope.

Update (Aug. 30): Democrats Abroad has contacted all of these states and they have confirmed that they will accept voted ballot return by a courier service. No date stamp is necessary as long as the voted ballot arrives by close of polls on Election Day.

Per iShop, the cost of mailing a letter 3-5 business days for FedEx is $1063 pesos and DHL is $940 pesos. She said UPS is quite a bit higher.

Diplomatic Pouch

Consular services in many countries are not operating normally or are understaffed, and therefore the diplomatic bag is not a guarantee. Check with your Embassy/Consulate to find out if they are currently accepting election mail. MEXICO Update: Currently we do not know if the Diplomatic Pouch will be available at LCS as it has been in the past. Information will be provided as it becomes available.

Moreover, the diplomatic pouch may not leave every day or even every week, depending on the country. When it does depart, the mail is delivered to the USPS sorting center at Dulles, where it enters into the regular US mail, which is itself experiencing delays. While this approach may avoid the delays of the postal service of the country in which you reside, you should note that there will likely still be delays. The best way to account for delays this year is to VOTE AND RETURN YOUR BALLOT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Note that each state has slightly different rules. Sometimes individual counties have their own rules. CHECK with your local election official. It all comes down to what that local office will accept/reject.
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Post by Flamingo on Fri Sep 18, 2020 1:12 pm

Tomorrow is the day election ballots are sent out by each state. Hopefully you already requested a ballot by email (available in all states). If not, it may not be too late to request an email ballot - check with your state's Secretary of State Website and your local election official. Then check your Inbox and spam file.

Read the instructions and be sure to follow them exactly. Any minor error may result in your completed ballot being disqualified. Check your local election official's Webpages for any requirements specific to your county. (I know it is silly, but each state is a bit different and some counties have their own rules) Then please vote as if your life depended on it.

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Post by Lucky Girl on Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:22 pm

Got our ballots yesterday per email,husband has his already filled out, me, I am a bit slower, will print this afternoon. Since Arkansas wants them mailed back, and I don't trust the US post office any further than I could throw the criminal in charge now, we will Fed Ex them back, I don't care what it costs, it will be worth it to VOTE BLUE!!

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Post by BisbeeGal on Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:22 pm

Just got our email ballots from Florida. We can fax our completed ballots.
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