Your vote counts! Did you know that many U.S. elections for house and senate seats have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters? All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline. Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:
- Request Your Ballot: Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The FPCA is a form you can use to register to vote and request absentee ballots for the year. We suggest that you send in a new FPCA every January, every time you move,or at least 90 days before an election. 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 during the calendar year in which it is submitted. The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.
It only takes a few quick steps to make sure your vote is counted no matter where you are in the world. The FPCA can be completed by using the FPCA online assistant, filling out the PDF, or picking up a hard copy version from your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The online assistant will guide you through the process of completing the form. Once you complete the form, you will be able to download and print the PDF package to sign and send to your election office. This PDF package even includes a pre-addressed envelope so you can send your package back to your election officials. Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. Return the FPCA per the instructions on the website. FVAP.gov will tell you if your state allows the FPCA to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature. If you must return a paper version, please see below for mailing options.
- Receive and Complete Your Ballot: For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online. States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. If you requested your absentee ballot and haven’t received it from your state at least 30 days before the election, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The FWAB is an emergency backup ballot. This backup ballot can be completed using our FWAB online assistant, by filling out the PDF or picking up a hard copy version from your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The online assistant will guide you through the process of completing the form.
- Return Your Completed Ballot: Once you complete the form, you will be able to download and print the PDF package to sign and send to your election office. This PDF package even includes a pre-addressed and postage-paid label so you don’t have to worry about finding stamps! Don’t forget a security envelope. (Use a separate blank envelope and write “Security Envelope” on it and place your voted ballot in it. This keeps your vote private.)
Place your materials in a postage paid return envelope (available under “Downloadable Election Materials” on the FVAP homepage) or in an envelope bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address it to the relevant local election officials. Some states allow you to return your completed ballot by email or fax. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can use international mail, a courier service such as FedEx or DHL, or you may also drop off completed voting materials during regular business hours at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Email to fax service by FVAP: Voters in States that allow for email submission of registration requests, and return of voted ballots, should send those materials directly to their election officials. In the past, FVAP has forwarded email-to-email transmissions, but, when direct communication is possible, there is no benefit or purpose for FVAP to be included in a transaction between the voter and election office. Voters whose States accept materials by email or regular mail will be instructed to send those materials directly to their election officials; FVAP will provide the “email@example.com” service for voters whose jurisdictions only permit faxing for electronic return of their election materials; and others faxing materials will be encouraged to send the fax directly to their election office whenever possible.
Researching the Candidates and Issues: Online Resources
Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov. If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact Phnom Penh’s Voting Assistance Officer at VotePhnomPenh@state.gov.
Remember, your vote counts! Be absent but accounted for!