Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who are or will be residing outside the United States at the time of an election are eligible to vote absentee in any election for federal office. Most states also allow overseas voters to vote in elections for state and local offices and state and local referenda. You can read an overview of absentee voting here.
Voting eligibility and residency requirements are determined by the individual states. Overseas voters must register, request a ballot, and submit their ballot to local jurisdictions. While the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) has consolidated much of the relevant information, voting still falls under each state’s purview. The FVAP website can be a helpful starting point, but it is often easiest to search for your state’s military and overseas voter program website directly. Usually these programs are coordinated by your state’s Secretary of State or election commission website. You may find the following links helpful.
Registration and Absentee Ballot Request
Voter registration and absentee ballot requests are governed by individual states. Contact your state’s chief election administrative office to determine the procedures and obtain the correct forms. It is also possible to use a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot. The standard FPCA can be obtained online at the Federal Voting Assistance Program website or in hardcopy from U.S. Embassy Georgetown. The FPCA form must be completed legibly, printed, signed and dated, and returned to your local election officials. All jurisdictions accept the FPCA by mail, but some states also allow electronic transmission of the FPCA via fax or email to speed the process.
- Note: You must send in a FPCA to your local election officials every year—even if you have previously voted overseas—and every time you change your name, physical address, or email address.
As a general rule, you should try to send in your completed voter registration and absentee ballot request so that it reaches your local election officials at least forty-five days before the first election in which you are eligible to vote. In most cases, this will provide time for election officials to process the request. Most states allow overseas voters to receive ballots electronically, either by email or an official website, although some states still rely on mail.
Last-Minute Absentee Voting
If you have not received your blank ballot 30 days before an election, use the emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to vote. This ballot is a back-up option used only in cases when an absentee ballot was requested, but not received.
Drop Off at Embassy Georgetown
You can drop off your FPCA and/or completed absentee ballots at U.S. Embassy Georgetown at the Duke Street entrance to the American Citizen Services unit. The U.S. Government offers this service to U.S. Citizens living overseas to make absentee voting as easy as possible. Any U.S. Citizen can drop off completed FPCAs or ballots and U.S. Embassy Georgetown will send them to the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Virginia. The mail will then enter the USPS system. It will take approximately three weeks for the mailed item to reach your local election official. You must include proper postage and complete “to” and “from” addresses on envelopes. Proper postage is needed for domestic mail, as if the envelope was deposited in a mailbox in the United States. If your state provides a postage-paid envelope, then no additional postage is necessary.
The Voting Assistance Officer at U.S. Embassy Georgetown is available to answer any questions. Please email us at VoteGeorgetown@State.gov