FEDERAL WRITE-IN ABSENTEE BALLOT FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Democrats Abroad provides links to state websites for overseas voters. Click Voting Action Center to find this information.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program compiles information for voters living abroad, including voting regulations, laws, deadlines, and procedures. Click Voting Assistance Guide to find this information.

Many states allow you to find your registration status on-line. Go to www.fvap.gov/reference/links.html#svrvw and click on the link for your state

After the House and Senate primaries, you can find out who all the Democratic nominees are in your state by going to: http://www.democratsabroad.org/

Most states allow the deadline to be met by faxing the original signed FPCA as long as the original hardcopy is mailed and received before the ballots are counted.

Exceptions:

  • Alabama, and Wyoming do not accept faxes.
  • The only way to meet the deadlines for AL, and WY is to ensure that your original FPCA arrives in the local election official's office by mail no later than the deadline. New York and Wyoming will also accept them by courier services).

The same FPCA form is also used to request a ballot. No state has a ballot request deadline before October 4.  Some states have a later deadline for people who have previously registered as overseas voters. Check the deadlines link at the bottom of this page.

Most states allow the deadline to be met by faxing the original signed FPCA as long as the original hardcopy is mailed and received before the ballots are counted.

Exceptions:

  • Alabama, and Wyoming do not accept faxes.

The FWAB is a back-up ballot that you can use if you requested your ballot thrity days before the election or by your State's voter registrations deadline, whichever is later. You can find your state's registration and ballot return deadlines by going to the deadlines link at the bottom of this page. You should use the FWAB if you have not received your pre-printed state ballot thirty days before the election.

  1. A Voter Declaration/Affirmation that is very similar to the Federal Postcard Application that Americans living abroad use to register to vote and request their ballots. You will need to sign and date this form.
  2. The Official Federal Write-In Ballot where you write in your vote. You can either write in the candidates' names or if you do not know the names of the candidates, you can write in the political party that you would like to see hold the offices. This ballot must be placed in a blank envelope and sealed.
  3. Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Instructions.

As long as you have registered to vote and requested your ballot using the Federal Postcard Application (the form that you completed and signed if you used VoteFromAbroad.org) thirty days before the election or by your State's voter registration deadline (whichever is later), you have the right to use the FWAB. You can find your state's registration and ballot deadlines by going to deadline link at the bottom of this page.

The FWAB is now available on www.VoteFromAbroad.org. If you have already registered to vote and requested your ballot, you should go back to www.VoteFromAbroad.org, answer the questions, download the pdf file and print out the VoteFromAbraod.org instruction sheet, the Voter'sDeclaration/Affirmation-Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, the Official Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Instructions.

  1. Sign and Date the Voter's Declaration/Affirmation: When you use www.VoteFromAbroad.org, the Voter's Declaration/Affirmation will be filled in based upon your voting state's requirements and the information you provided. You just need to review the information, sign and date it.
  2. Vote the Ballot: You can either write in the candidate's name or the political party you would like to see hold the office for U.S. Senator for your state and U.S. Representative for your Congressional District.
  3. Put the voted ballot in a blank, sealed envelope.
  4. Put the sealed envelope and the Signed and Dated Voter's Declaration/Affirmation in another envelope and mail to the local election official address provided on your customized information sheet.
  5. Put proper postage on the envelope and make sure it is mailed from outside the United States (unless you are in the military).

You do not need a pre-printed security envelope when you use the on-line version of the FWAB. If you have a hard copy of the FWAB from a US Embassy or from Democrats Abroad, it will come with a pre-printed security envelope that you should use instead of a blank envelope.

We recommend that you mail your ballot in the first week of October or as soon after as possible to ensure that your ballot is received in time to be counted.

If you register to vote or request your ballot less than sixty days before the election using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) but before the deadline, then you should Fax your FPCA (unless you vote in Alabama or Wyoming) and mail the original FPCA along with the FWAB. The FWAB must be placed in a blank envelope that is referred to as a security envelope. The security envelope, the voter declaration and the FPCA should all be mailed together from outside the United States. (If you are in the Uniformed Services or the Merchant Marines, you can mail it from within the U.S.).

U.S. Citizens who are not in the military MUST mail their FWABs from outside the U.S. Make sure that you get your mailing envelope postmarked or stamped with some evidence that it was mailed from outside the U.S.

Foreign Postmark: All states will accept a foreign postmark as evidence of submission fromm outside the U.S.

Consular Stamp: All states have been informed by the U.S. State Department that they should accept a consular stamp as evidence of submission from outside the U.S.

Commercial Courier: Some states will also accept a commercial courier service waybill as evidence of submission from outside the U.S. Using a courier service should be a last resort. Alabama explicitly refuses to accept materials sent to them by commercial couriers, such as Federal Express and DHL.

If you get your state ballot after you have mailed in your FWAB, you should vote the ballot and mail it in. Local election officials only count the FWAB if they do not have a regular ballot from you. You are not voting twice because the FWAB is not counted if your pre-printed state ballot is returned by the voting deadline.

An Emergency Ballot is for people who are in remote parts of the world with very unreliable mail service such as Peace Corps volunteers in remote parts of Africa or soldiers in Iraq. The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is the back up ballot for all Americans living overseas.