Overseas Voting Guidance for U.S. Citizens

[Last updated: 08/30/2020]

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!

Your vote counts!

In order to vote in the November 2020 elections, all overseas U.S. citizens first need to have completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2020.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, we recommend you  complete an FPCA each year to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

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:  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.  If your state allows this, follow their specific instructions (and you can skip Step 2!)

STEP 2: Mail Your Ballot (Using the Diplomatic Pouch at the Embassy, or Other Mailing Options)

  • If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you may do so through U.S. Embassy Nassau’s diplomatic pouch service.  The diplomatic pouch provides free mail service from embassies and consulates to a U.S. sorting facility.  Alternatively, you may choose to 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.
  • Ballots may be dropped off on weekdays (excluding U.S. and Bahamian holidays) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  No appointment is necessary.
  • It can take up to four (4) to six (6) weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by an embassy or consulate via diplomatic pouch.  All overseas U.S. citizens are advised to submit their forms and ballots accordingly.  Ballots will be received and forwarded whenever submitted, but you may want to consider using a courier service if submitting your ballot close to or after the estimated delivery time for pouch mail.

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Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.govIf 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.

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!