Your vote counts! Did you know that many U.S. elections for the House and Senate have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters? All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years and older who are or will be residing outside the United States during an election period are eligible to vote absentee in any election for federal office. This includes primary, run-off and special elections that occur throughout the year, as well as the Presidential general elections. Some states also allow overseas voters to vote in elections for state and local offices, as well as for state and local referendums.
Voting eligibility and residency requirements are determined by individual U.S. states. Visit the FVAP for more information regarding your state of legal residence. Your “state of legal residence” for voting purposes is generally the state where you last resided immediately prior to departure from the United States. Voting rights extend to overseas citizens even though they may no longer own property or have other ties to their last state of residence, and even if an intent to return to that state may be uncertain. For those U.S. citizens who have never resided in the United States, eighteen states allow eligible U.S. citizens to register where a parent would be eligible to vote.
Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:
- Request Your Ballot: Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) (PDF 321 KB). You must complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2020 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2020 elections. 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. The FPCA (PDF 321 KB) is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories.
- You can complete the FPCA online at FVAP.gov. The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. We encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. Return the FPCA per the instructions on the website. FVAP.gov will tell you if your state allows the FPCA to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature. If you must return a paper version, please see below for mailing options.
- Research the Candidates and Issues: Online Resources. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will 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 on-line. You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.
- 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. For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online
- Return Your Completed Ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can return your FPCA or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.
Alternatively, voters can submit forms and ballots to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik and we will mail it through the Diplomatic Postal Service. Please keep in mind that mail from the U.S. Embassy in Iceland can take up to two weeks to reach its destination in the United States. Ballots in envelopes fully addressed to your relevant local election officials in postage-paid-return envelopes or with sufficient domestic U.S. postage can be dropped at the U.S. Embassy any day Monday through Friday between 2 – 3:30 pm.
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov.
The American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik is also available to answer questions about absentee voting. Please contact us by email: Consular Section.
Remember, your vote counts!