How to Register to Vote in U.S. Elections While Living Overseas
The frenzy of the 2014 midterm elections is a few months behind us, and, believe it or not, the 2016 presidential election will be here before we know it. The first caucuses will be held less than a year from now, with other local and state elections held in the months between. For some expats abroad, American politics may seem a world away, but the results of U.S. elections still have a major impact on our lives, no matter how firmly planted on foreign soil we may be. Fortunately, while we’re off exploring the world, we can still contribute our voice to American elections.
I’ve enjoyed observing political processes abroad, but, even more, I’ve loved maintaining a connection to the U.S. by keeping a close eye on American politics, especially come Election Day, even if it meant having to wake up at 3am to stream MSNBC or spend my work day discreetly refreshing news sites. I assure you I will be doing the same for upcoming elections, regardless of where in the world I may be, and I will most definitely be proudly casting my vote, even if I do it absentee.
If you’re planning to vote from overseas in the future, the first step is to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The Federal Voting Assistance Program encourages voters to submit a new FPCA at the start of every calendar year, as well as with any change of address (or, at the very least, 90 days before an election). This will ensure you receive an absentee ballot for every election for which you’re eligible. If you haven’t yet filled out your FPCA for 2015 and are planning to vote in any upcoming elections, get it in now!
FVAP’s online assistant walks you through the super simple process, which you can begin through this link or the widget below. It took me about three minutes from start to finish. At the end, you’ll be linked to a PDF. Californians can print it and either mail or fax it in, but some states make it even easier by allowing you to submit the form by email.
Traveling around countries where democracy has come at a much higher price always makes me particularly grateful that we in the U.S. have the right to vote. Expats, take advantage of that right, and get yourselves registered. For any questions about the process, the FVAP website has tons of useful information. If this post encourages at least one more person to vote from overseas, my work here is done!