Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > While Abroad > Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad
VOTING IS NOW EASIER THAN EVER BEFORE
U.S. citizens can receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or internet download, depending on the state they are eligible to vote in.
Most U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to vote absentee for federal office candidates in U.S. primary and general elections. In addition, some states allow overseas citizens to vote for state and local office candidates and referendums. For information about your state, see the Voting Assistance Guide.
In some states, U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older and were born abroad but who have never resided in the United States are eligible to vote absentee. Direct your questions about eligibility to local election officials.
Absentee voting is a simple two-step process:
IMPORTANT: U.S. citizens abroad must submit a new FPCA each year to vote in U.S. elections. Submit your FPCA at the beginning of the calendar year, or at least 45 days before an election, to allow ample time to process your request and resolve any problems. Once approved, your name will be put on a list of voters to receive absentee ballots.
To vote from abroad, you must register with local election officials in your state of voting residence AND request an absentee ballot. You can use the FPCA to do both. Submit a new FPCA early each year, every time you move, and whenever you change your address, email, or name.
Start at the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website, where an online assistant walks you through the process. You can also pick up an FPCA and copy of your state’s requirements from U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, or from many overseas U.S. citizen civic or political groups.
You can always return your FPCA by mail. In addition, most states allow you to send in your FPCA by fax or email. Consult the online Voting Assistance Guide for your state’s current instructions. If you need help completing or submitting the form, contact the voting assistance officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Forty-five days before November general elections, your state will send you a blank ballot either electronically or via mail at the address you provided on your FPCA.
Ballots will generally be mailed out 30 days before primary, special, and run-off elections. Depending on your state and your status abroad, you may receive absentee ballots for all elections or abbreviated ballots for federal office elections only.
Complete your ballot carefully, legibly, and as early as possible. Make sure to return it to local election officials in time to meet your state’s deadline.
Overseas voters have a number of options for returning completed ballots:
If you completed all required steps but have not received your ballot 30 days before an election, submit a completed Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Contact the voting assistance officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for help, or visit the FVAP website to complete an FWAB using the online assistant. Write in the candidates of your choice, then print, sign, and send the FWAB to your local election officials. If your regular absentee ballot arrives after submitting a FWAB, you should still complete and return it. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot does not reach local election officials by your state’s deadline. This will not invalidate your vote or result in casting two votes.
Most states have websites to verify voter registration. If you are unsure of your status or want to confirm that local officials have received and approved your registration, check the FVAP website for a directory of state voter registration verification websites. You can also write, email, or call local election officials directly.
Voting and Taxes
Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect your federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect your state tax liability. Consult legal counsel if you have questions.
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