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Overseas Voting Guidance for U.S. Citizens
September 28, 2020


Image of a hand dropping an envelope into a box, U.S. flags in the background
Voting from overseas is easy; start the registration process online, and mail all your voting related materials through the Embassy!

[Last updated: 10/19/2020]

Guidance for U.S. Citizens on Overseas Voting for the 2020 General Election

Registering to vote and submitting a ballot is fast, easy, and can be done from anywhere in the world!

NEW: Virtual Voting Assistance Sessions – October 21, 22 and 28, 2020

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is offering recurring virtual voting assistance via Zoom for the next two weeks to provide direct support to overseas citizens. Voters can participate in any of the meetings and speak with an FVAP representative who can answer questions about absentee voting, including inquiries about the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) forms. Voters can also use the chat to submit questions in writing. These office hours are intended to support voters who are not able to call FVAP (tel: 1-800-438-8683)  during regular business hours.

Wednesdays:  October 21 and 28 at 6:00 AM ET

Wednesdays:  October 21 and 28 at 9:00 PM ET

Thursdays:  October 22 at 7:00 AM ET

U.S. Citizens, Get Your Ballots in ASAP!

There are only a couple of weeks remaining before the elections, so if you want to make your vote count, please act immediately.  An overview on overseas voting is available here, or try out our Visual Voting Guide for step by step screen-shot instructions of how to use FVAP and fill out your FCPA.

Each state is different, so check your state’s guidance regarding ballot deadlines.

To submit your ballot:

  1. Check here to see if your state will accept ballots by fax or email;
  2. OR, send your ballot through a commercial courier such as DHL or FedEx

Step-by-Step Instructions for Registering via FVAP:

STEP 1: Register to Vote Overseas, and Complete the Ballot for Your State

  • Register to vote:  Start by confirming your voter registration with your state. Some states require absentee voters to register annually, so you may need to re-register. Go to FVAP.gov to connect to your state’s voter portal to register to vote, request a ballot, and more.
  • Request Your Ballot (and hurry, before your state’s registration deadline passes!):  Most states provide the option to request ballots through their state election portals, which you can easily access via FVAP.gov. You can also choose to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). 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. FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in every U.S. state and territory. FVAP’s easy online assistant can assist you with completing the FPCA.  Whether you request your ballot through your state’s portal or the FPCA, we encourage you to select the option to receive your ballot electronically (by email, internet download, or fax) when available.  This is the fastest way to get your ballot and ensures you have it in time to return a completed form before your state’s deadline.
  • 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.  Most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online.
  • Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically or via fax. If your state allows this, follow their specific instructions (and you can skip Step 2!) If you don’t have a fax machine, there are many online fax services online that simply require a scanner (or in some instances you can take a photo of a document with your phone).

STEP 2: Mail Your Ballot (Using a Commercial Courier Service)

  • If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, please mail your materials via international mail or professional courier service options.
  • Place your voting materials in one of the postage paid return envelope formats (available under “Downloadable Election Materials on the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s homepage) or in an envelope bearing sufficient U.S. postage.  Address the envelope to your board of elections and seal it.
  • Even when using a commercial courier service, it can take time for your mail to arrive. Don’t delay! Be sure to look up your state’s deadline, and drop off your ballot at your commercial carrier in time for the deadline for your state.

­Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov. If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact U.S. Embassy Nassau’s Voting Assistance Officer at 242-322-1181, or at VoteNassau@state.gov. And remember you can also check out our Visual Voting Guide for step by step screen-shot instructions of how to use FVAP and fill out your FCPA!

Researching the Candidates and Issues: Online Resources.  Go to the FVAP links page for helpful resources to 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 online.  You can also read national and hometown newspapers online 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 (@DODFVAP), Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov).

Remember, your vote counts!