Ask the Consul – February 2020

Question:  I am a U.S. citizen living in Trinidad and Tobago, can I vote in U.S. elections?

 

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, U.S. citizens living overseas who are eligible to vote can participate in all general, primary, and special elections for federal offices. Absentee voting is fast and easy. Most U.S. citizens can complete the voter registration and ballot request application online. You should begin by confirming your voter registration by visiting the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at FVAP.gov. Select your state’s voter portal to register. Once confirmed, follow a few simple steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:

 

1.   Request Your BallotFVAP.gov has useful tools to help U.S. voters get information on their state’s absentee voting process as well as access to online assistants and printable forms to register and request ballots. Read the voting guidelines for your state as states have different deadlines for requesting and receiving absentee ballots. You can also choose to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) online or at the U.S. Embassy. When registering, ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballot to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. 

 

2.   Receive and Complete Your Ballot: States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a general election for federal office and generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. 

 

3.   Return Your Completed, Signed Ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically. FVAP.gov will tell you, based on your state, whether the application can be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy. U.S. citizens submitting paper forms should ensure they sign their absentee ballot before sealing it in the mailing envelope. Unsigned ballots will be rejected by local election officials. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or by dropping off completed materials at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Your voting materials must have proper U.S. postage.  Please note that it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by the Embassy. U.S. voters can confirm election officials received their ballot by visiting their state’s election website.

For additional information on voting overseas, subscribe to FVAP Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov), contact U.S. Embassy Port of Spain’s Voting Assistance Officer at (868)-622-6371, or send your questions to voteportofspain@state.gov.

 

Receive this and other information for U.S. citizens abroad from the U.S. Embassy by enrolling in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) by visiting https://step.state.gov/step/.  For additional information on American Citizen Services, please visit the U.S. Embassy website: tt.usembassy.gov.