American citizens have the right to vote, no matter where they are in the world. Members of the U.S. military and other American citizens living/working temporarily and permanently outside the USA can register online and have an absentee ballot sent to them while abroad.
It is best to register and have ballots sent early, however many states allow voter registration as late as 30 days before an election.
To register, American citizens need:
1. Driver’s license number from your last state of residence and Social Security Number (SSN) — If you do not know or have both of these numbers, some (not all) states assign an identity number
2. Street address of your last residence in the USA (no P.O. boxes)
3. Current mailing address abroad
Then go to www.fvap.gov and complete the online form.
Some states allow voters to both receive and return their ballots by email and fax via international toll-free phone numbers (list is provided), though most only accept ballots via regular international mail — it is imperative to follow the instructions unique to each state. A postage-paid envelope is also available to print for military personnel using an APO/FPO post office and for American citizens choosing to drop their ballots in the diplomatic mail pouch at an American Embassy.
Should a ballot not arrive two (2) weeks prior to an election, an emergency federal write-in ballot can be requested online or from the American Embassy/Consulate.
With the process being easy, convenient and free, there is no reason why Americans abroad shouldn’t vote and make their voices heard.
Have a question?
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website is comprehensive and answers most questions. However, live inquiries can be made at the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, where a voting assistance officer is available to assist you.
Find a location by clicking, “List of U.S. Embassies worldwide.”
Photo from fvap.gov