Help me find a  
 
program in  
 

How to Vote for the 2016 Presidential Election From Abroad

How to Vote While Living Abroad

While the 2016 presidential election is fast approaching, if you're living abroad it could sneak up on you even faster than you expect. As an expat, traveler, or student abroad, voting from overseas isn't as simple as showing up at a ballot booth. You have to -- in true bureaucratic form -- go through a couple of extra hoops to make sure you cast your ballot for the 2016 presidential election (or any election for that matter).

As someone who has lived abroad through a presidential election before, I'll admit that it's more difficult but that doesn't make it an excuse not to vote. Get out there and cast your ballot. Here's how to vote while living abroad:

1. Register with Your Home State

Regardless of if you're at home or abroad, the first step to voting is registering to vote. The US is only now starting to pass laws that make it automatic that you are registered to vote when you get your driving license -- with Oregon being the first to actually complete the auto-voting process this year.

Automatic voter registrationMap credit: Brennan Center for Justice

If you still aren’t registered, depending on your state regulations, you can do so online. Remember, even if you’re living abroad, you need to register to vote with the last permanent US domicile you had even if you may not be going back to that address. I, for example, live in Italy but to vote in the US elections, my address is still registered as my childhood home address where my mother still lives.

2. Request your Absentee Ballot

Since you’ll be abroad when voting, you'll next need an absentee ballot specifically for overseas voters. Since you're requesting an absentee ballot, this does require you to think a few months in advance of the election to make sure you have it in time for November 8th. The U.S has a wonderful program that allows those outside the country to still vote in all elections and because you are now registered to vote, getting your absentee ballot just became a lot easier.

First, head to fvap.gov to figure out when you need your ballot in by for it to count. Here is New York as an example:

State Registration Ballot Requested Ballot Return
Alabama Postmarked by October 24, 2016 Received by November 3, 2016 Postmarked by November 8, 2016
Alaska

By Mail: Postmarked by October 9, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 9, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by October 29, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 8, 2016

Return by Online or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Arizona Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Arkansas Postmarked by October 9, 2016 Received by November 1, 2016 Postmarked by November 8, 2016
California

Return by Mail: Postmarked by October 24, 2016

Return by Fax: Received by October 24, 2016

Received by November 1, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 8, 2016

Return by Fax: Received by November 8, 2016

Colorado Sent by 7 PM, November 8, 2016 No deadline Sent by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Connecticut Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016 Received by November 7, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Delaware

By Mail: Postmarked by October 24, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 24, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by 12 PM, November 4, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by 12 PM, November 7, 2016

Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
District of Columbia Received by October 11, 2016 Received by November 1, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016
Florida Postmarked by October 11, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by November 2, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by November 8, 2016

Outside U.S. Return by Mail or Fax: Postmarked by November 8, 2016
Georgia

By Email or Fax: Received by 5 PM, October 11, 2016

By Mail: Postmarked by 5 PM, October 11, 2016

Received by 5 PM, November 4, 2016 Postmarked by 5 PM, November 8, 2016
Hawaii Received by October 10, 2016 Received by 4:30 PM, November 1, 2016 Received by 6 PM, November 8, 2016
Idaho Received by 5 PM, October 14, 2016 Received by 5 PM, October 28, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Illinois Not required Signed by October 8, 2016 Signed by November 8, 2016
Indiana Received by October 31, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by October 31, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by 12 PM, November 7, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Received by November 8, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 8, 2016

Iowa Received by November 8, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by 5 PM, November 4, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 7, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Received by 9 PM, November 8, 2016

Kansas

By Mail: Postmarked by October 18, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 18, 2016

Sent by November 8, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016
Kentucky

By Mail: Postmarked by October 11, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 11, 2016

Received by November 1, 2016 Received by 6 PM, November 8, 2016
Louisiana

By Mail: Postmarked by October 11, 2016

By Fax: Received by October 11, 2016

Received by 4:30 PM, November 7, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Maine Received by November 8, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Maryland Postmarked by October 18, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by November 1, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by November 4, 2016

Postmarked by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Massachusetts Not Required Received by 12 PM, November 7, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 8, 2016

Return by Email/Online or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Michigan Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016 Received by 2 PM, November 5, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Minnesota Received by November 8, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Mississippi

By Mail: Postmarked by October 29, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 29, 2016

Received by November 8, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Missouri Received by October 12, 2016 Received by November 4, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 7, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Montana Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Return by Mail: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Sent by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Nebraska

By Mail: Received by 6 PM, October 21, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by 6 PM, October 28, 2016

Received by 4 PM, November 2, 2016 Received by 8 PM CT/ 7 PM MT, November 8, 2016
Nevada

By Mail: Postmarked by October 8, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 8, 2016

By Online System: Received by 11:59 PM, October 18, 2016

By FWAB: Received by November 1, 2016

Received by November 1, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
New Hampshire Received by November 8, 2016 Received by November 7, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016
New Jersey

By Mail: Received by October 9, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by November 4, 2016

By Mail: Received by October 9, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by November 4, 2016

Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
New Mexico Received by October 11, 2016 Received by November 4, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016
New York Received by October 14, 2016 Received by November 1, 2016 Postmarked by November 7, 2016
North Carolina Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016 Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016

Return by Mail: Sent by 12 AM, November 8, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Received by 7:30 PM, November 8, 2016

North Dakota Not Required Received by November 7, 2016

Return by Email/Online or Fax: Received by November 7, 2016

Return by Mail: Postmarked by November 7, 2016

Ohio

By Mail: Postmarked by October 11, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 11, 2016

Received by 12 PM, November 5, 2016 Received by November 18, 2016
Oklahoma

By Mail: Postmarked by October 14, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 14, 2016

Received b y5 PM, November 2, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Oregon

By Mail: Postmarked by October 18, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 18, 2016

Request Mail Ballot: Received by November 3, 2016

Request Email/Online or Fax Ballot: Received by November 8, 2016

Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Pennsylvania

By Mail: Postmarked by October 11, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by October 11, 2016

Received by November 7, 2016 Signed by November 7, 2016
Rhode Island Not Required Received by 4 PM, October 18, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
South Carolina Received by October 8, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016

By Mail: Sent by 7 PM, November 8, 2016

South Dakota Received by 5 PM, October 24, 2016 Received by 5 PM, November 7, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Tennessee Received by November 1, 2016 Received by November 1, 2016 Received by 8 PM ET, November 8, 2016
Texas Received by October 11, 2016 Received by October 28, 2016 Received by November 14, 2016
Utah Received by October 10, 2016 Received by November 3, 2016

By Mail: Sent by November 7, 2016

By Email or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Vermont Received by November 2, 2016 Received by November 7, 2016 Received by November 8, 2016
Virginia Postmarked by October 17, 2016 Received by November 1, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016
Washington Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Return by Email or Fax: Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

Return by Mail: Signed by 8 PM, November 8, 2016

West Virginia Received by October 18, 2016 Received by November 2, 2016 Received by November 14, 2016
Wisconsin Postmarked by October 19, 2016 Received by 5 PM, November 3, 2016 Received by 8 PM, November 8, 2016
Wyoming Received by November 7, 2016 Received by November 7, 2016 Received by 7 PM, November 8, 2016

Note: different dates may apply if you're submitting a ballot from within the U.S. or as a military member. Check fvap.gov to confirm your dates if either of those apply to you.

New Yorkers would need to fill out the form and have it postmarked by November 7th, the day before the election (at the LATEST -- getting it in earlier is always best!) Your local consulate can help you out with this if you get stuck.

To get an absentee ballot, you can ask the U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest to your city abroad. They will direct you to fill out the double-sided Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) that can be found on the FVAP website. The FPCA serves as both a registration form and an application for an absentee ballot. Remember, this isn’t your official ballot; it's only a request for one.

Though the FPCA is universal, the way you submit it varies by state. For example, some allow you to submit by email (obviously the easiest when abroad), but some require snail mail. You can find your state's instructions on fvap.gov's interactive map.

Once you fill it out, it’s ready to mail. If you’re still in the States, you can mail it without postage, but it's a different story overseas. Check the details within your state's page to make sure you're doing it correctly.

Tip: as the US Consulate in Florence stated, “you can bring the completed FPCA to any US Consulate and Embassy to be mailed for you without charge.” WIN! Don’t know where you’re closest embassy is? I’ve got you covered.

3. Getting & Returning Your Ballot

Cast your ballot

Now that you've done the prep work, it's the government's turn. Receiving your ballot can be done electronically now (yay technology!), so you can easily get it through email instead of, again, international address messiness.

If you do request this method, check your email about 45 to 30 days before the election. You'll receive your blank ballot that you can print out and fill out or, if you're lucky, your state has already allowed electronically returned ballots. New Yorkers: tough luck, but you're still on the paper route for now. This map

Again, if you do have to submit a hard copy of your ballot, you can follow your State instructions, or stop by your nearest Consulate or Embassy.

And, just like that, you've voted in one of the most important elections that the U.S. has seen in quite a while!

Wait, who should I even vote for?

Voting overseas might even seem easier than figuring out who to vote for! To help you out, try heading to the website I Side With, which really digs into the common issues concerning the presidency and acts like a magazine quiz that pops out your best matched candidate. The best part? If you are unsure of your stance on a topic, it provides background information to help you choose.

Other Organizations that Can Help Your Vote

Though I just laid out the main way to get your ballot and vote, there are other international communities that have stepped up to make all of this information easier and much more accessible for those living abroad.

  • I, for example, am a part of Democrats Abroad that organizes info sessions on candidates and voting assistance throughout the year. While Republicans don't have an official website or community overseas, they do have a Facebook page called Republicans Overseas, though it does seem to focus more on particular issues. Maybe you could be the first to organize the party from abroad!

  • Vote From Abroad is also an extremely useful resource, which also provides aid in voting from overseas and can help with general FAQ's. It has really been a great source of information for my personal voting standpoint.

  • Overseas Vote Foundation is another nonpartisan nonprofit website to aid in voter registration and also highlights Uniformed Service Members, which many may be interested in.

  • The US Vote Foundation has detailed information on everything from election dates and deadlines to a Voter Help Desk. I'd recommend perusing them all, finding the site layout that you like best, and starting your research!

  • Avaaz is a tool dedicated to helping Americans abroad vote from overseas.

As an international citizen, you will see so much of the world and how others respect (or disrespect) their right to have a say in their government. In some countries, a vote is something they have been fighting for.

Use your freedom, vote, and raise your voice for the international US citizens abroad. We need to be represented, and every vote counts! See you at the polls (even if it's through email).

Is this your first time on Go Overseas? Learn how it works.

Lisa Saltagi

Lisa studied in Ascoli Piceno, Italy in 2010 and since has always needed to have a flight booked somewhere. After failing at office life, she flew to Italy and became a European tour-guide for a year. Now, she’s focusing on her writing while living in Florence with her husband. Check her out on Google+.