The Facts on Voting from Abroad

The Facts on Voting from Abroad

Americans living abroad number in the millions. With elections being decided by microscopic margins, the importance of overseas votes has never been more obvious. In 2008, Al Franken became U.S. Senator from Minnesota by a margin of 312 votes. In 2004, Democrat Christine Gregoire became governor of Washington by just 133 votes. And who could forget the 537 votes in Florida that sent George Bush to the White House in 2000?

The law

  • All Americans abroad retain the right to vote in US Federal elections no matter where they live in the world, how long they have been overseas, or when and where they last voted.*

  • This right was granted by Congress in 1975. Today, it is guaranteed and governed by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA), which was recently amended in 2009 by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

* The only possible exception is children of US citizens who have never resided in the United States. In most cases, they may vote in the state where their American parent(s) last resided.  Check with your local election official.  The only state which explicitly prohibits these citizens from voting is Virginia.

The process

  • Americans abroad must register and request a ballot from their local voting authority, wherever they last resided in the United States.

  • The request must be received and accepted. The voting authority transmits a ballot overseas (by post or electronically). The voter must complete and mail it back.  Democrats Abroad has a global team to assist with any complications you may face. Contact us at votercentral@democratsabroad.org. Start early to allow adequate time for mailings and possible requests for additional information.

  • The form used to register and request a ballot is known as the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA. Each state provides its own explicit instructions on how this form needs to be completed in order to be valid.  Votefromabroad.org produces the FPCA tailored to the latest instructions for your voting state.

  • In the event a voter fails to receive a duly requested ballot, a backup is available: the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, or FWAB.

  • Recent legislation (MOVE Act) requires overseas voters to file a new ballot request each year.

The easy way – VoteFromAbroad.org

  • VoteFromAbroad.org is the easiest and most comprehensive online solution to the complexities of overseas voting.

  • By answering a few simple questions, the voter immediately receives a completed FPCA ballot request – ready to be printed, signed and mailed to the address provided.

  • VoteFromAbroad.org also immediately provides a FWAB write-in ballot, to be used in the event that the state ballot fails to arrive in time.

  • VoteFromAbroad.org is a public service provided by Democrats Abroad in both English and Spanish for the use of all overseas voters, regardless of party affiliation.