Voting Information For U.S. Citizens Abroad: Americans Can Vote Wherever They Are

Text: US Embassy Helsinki, pic: iStock by Getty images

For most U.S. citizens, exercising their right to vote is their principal means of participating in the American democratic process. This is true for Americans who live in the United States and the more than 9 million U.S.
citizens who reside abroad.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program works to ensure that Americans living overseas are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so from anywhere in the world.

Your Vote Counts
Over the last decade, the number of overseas U.S. citizens who cast ballots in U.S. elections has steadily increased to more than 3 percent of total votes cast. Despite public misconceptions, all states are required to count every ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot deadline.

Many elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee and overseas voters.

Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:
1. Request Your Ballot
Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at https://www.fvap.gov/fpca. You should complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2020 to ensure you receive a ballot for every federal election for which you are eligible throughout the 2020 election cycle.

The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections. FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.

2. Receive and Complete Your Ballot
States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. Some states send ballots electronically (by email, internet download, or fax). For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery option by visiting the state’s election website at https://www.fvap.gov/links.

3. Return Your Completed Ballot
Many states allow ballots to be returned electronically but some do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so free of charge by bringing your ballot to U.S. Embassy Helsinki.

Simply place your ballot in the postage paid return envelope provided with your ballot and bring it to the Embassy. If it’s more convenient, you can return your FPCA or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.

Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website https://www.fvap.gov. In addition to guidance on voting from abroad the website contains a “Helpful Links” page with useful resources and non-partisan information that may aid in your research of candidates and issues. If you have additional questions about how to vote from overseas you may also contact U.S. Embassy Helsinki at .

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