VOTING IN 2016 U.S. ELECTIONS
Your vote counts! Did you know that many U.S. elections for house and senate 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 2016 U.S. elections:
Request Your Ballot: Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You must complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2016 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2016 elections. 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.
You can complete the FPCA online at FVAP.gov. The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. We encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). 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: 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. For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.
Return Your Completed Ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can do so free of charge at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address them to the relevant local election officials.
Sealed ballots can be submitted Monday through Friday (except U.S. and TT Public Holidays) to the U.S. Embassy, between the hours of 8:00 am- 3:30 pm.
If you are unable to access a computer to register, voters can come into the Embassy between the hours of 1:00 – 3:30 pm to register online.
If it’s more convenient for you, you can also return your FPCA or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.
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 on-line. You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, 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.
Remember, your vote counts!
The American Citizens Services Unit recommends that you to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://step.state.gov/step/. Once registered, as a U.S. citizen residing outside of the United States, you can:
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s Web site, where you will find the most current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Trinidad and Tobago. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s Web site.
Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1 888 407 4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1 202 501 4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain is located at 15 Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain. Routine services are by appointment only.