Big Changes in Absentee Voting for US Citizens Abroad
2012 marks an important election year in the USA. If you are a U.S. citizen living abroad and plan to vote, you need to act now, even if you think you are already registered. New regulations under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) for overseas voting went into effect in 2010.
To vote while you are outside the USA, you must send a completed federal post card application (FPCA) available at www.votefromabroad.org, to your local election official every year. This applies even if you voted in the previous election and you automatically receive a ballot from your local election official.
Why is this important? If an election is challenged, then un-requested ballots will not be counted. You are strongly urged to get in the habit of submitting a new FPCA every January so that you receive ballots for all the elections in which you are eligible during the calendar year and your ballots are counted. Beyond the November general elections held every other year, you may also be eligible to vote in federal or state primary elections, special elections, emergency elections and runoffs.
The first presidential primary contests take place in January 2012. Plan to submit a new FPCA as early as possible, so your election officials will have time to send you an absentee ballot, and you will have time to vote. Because elections are managed individually by all 55 states and territories, there are 55 sets of rules for absentee voting, but the basic steps are simple:
• To vote and request an absentee ballot, fill out the FPCA at www.votefromabroad.org, and mail
it to your local election official in the state or territory in which you are eligible to vote. This can
now be done electronically for many states and territories.
• The election official will approve or reject the FPCA or request additional information.
• If your FPCA is approved, the election official will send you an absentee ballot. Under the
MOVE Act, all states can send the ballot electronically if requested by the voter.
• Vote and return your ballot to your election official by your state’s deadline. Note that the voted
ballot has to be sent by surface mail from your Guatemala address.
To successfully vote absentee, you should:
• Allow plenty of time to request, receive and return your ballot.
• Notify your local election official each time your mailing address changes.
• Become familiar with the absentee voting laws, procedures and deadlines for your state or terri-
tory to make sure your ballot is properly executed and will be counted.
• Note for Democrats: If you vote in your state’s 2012 primary for Congress members, do not vote in the presidential portion of the primary ballot. You can only vote in one presidential primary, and we want you to participate in Democrats Abroad’s primary, which will be held in Guatemala in May 2012. See www.democratsabroad.org/resources, (scroll down to state parties) for information regarding Democratic Senate and House primaries in your state.
Regardless of your political party or interests, we are ready to assist you in determining how procedures apply to you, so please feel free to contact Democrats Abroad Guatemala at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 7832-4581. For additional information see: http://travel.state.gov/travel/living/overseas_voting/overseas_voting_4754.html