An official website of the United States government

June 2, 2015

Now all U.S. citizens can receive their blank ballots electronically. Depending on the state in which you are eligible to vote, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. To start, go to www.FVAP.gov to complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), print and sign the form then return it to your local election office in the United States. We recommend overseas U.S. citizens get in the habit of completing FPCAs each January. You should include your email address on the form so it’s easier for your election officials to reach you if there is a problem. If your state delivers ballots electronically by fax only, be sure to include your fax number. If you request electronic delivery and include your email address or fax number, you’ll receive your blank ballot 45 days before general and mid-term elections and generally 30 days before special, primary, and run-off elections for federal offices. Most states now have voter registration verification websites, and many offer a means of tracking the status of your registration and ballot.

New absentee voting laws are in effect.  You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request.  All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election.  No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line.  Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website www.FVAP.gov.

The official US Government website for overseas absentee voting assistance is the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at fvap.gov and you can also refer to the State Department webpage on Overseas Voting.  It has a wealth of information about absentee voting, including the downloadable absentee ballot application, state-specific instructions for completing the form, links to state and local officials, and a downloadable emergency ballot.

The following is the basic absentee voting process:

  •  You complete an application form (see below) and send it to local election officials in the U.S.
  • The local official approves your request, or contacts you for further information
  • The local official sends you an absentee ballot
  • You vote the ballot and send it back in time to meet your state’s deadline

Overseas citizens groups help people to vote.  We encourage you to contact Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad or other American citizens groups or organizations for assistance in registering to vote and requesting absentee ballots.  Links to these groups are at fvap.gov

Each state has different voting procedures.  Information about your state’s procedures is available at fvap.gov.  Information about your state’s deadlines to register and vote is available at fvap.gov. A calendar of election dates is available at fvap.gov.

States sometimes make last-minute changes.  There may be late changes to your state’s voting calendar, procedures or deadlines.  When these occur, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) will issue a News Release.  News Releases are available at fvap.gov.

Voter Registration Assistance

Remember that your vote counts, and that many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it’s valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.

Be an Educated Voter.  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 via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter.  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 (vote@fvap.gov). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain’s Voting Assistance Officer at (868) 622-6371, or at acspos@state.gov.

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