It’s election time again! It’s time to do our civic duty and assert our right to vote for the next president of the United States of America! Now as a younger person of a mere 24 years old all of this once sounded very exciting to me. However, times have changed and I now absolutely dread any conversation dealing with politics (seriously it’s just not my topic of choice). Now that I am a little older and little more mature I have come to believe that voting is important for everyone.
Now I’m not sure if many of you know, but hopefully, you do since you have stumbled upon this post and that is that I am an American Expat living overseas in beautiful sunny Australia. This year will be my first year voting in the presidential election. You may be curious as to why I didn’t vote in the last election, now I know some of you smarty pants are wondering because if you do the math you would have noticed I was old enough to vote. Well, the reason why was because I was living away at college and I was a young and dumb 20-year-old who was more interested in other things than in politics. It’s a terrible reason I know, please don’t hate me.
Anyways I have turned over a new leaf and I am all about the vote this year! But now I’m facing a new problem. I’m overseas living in Australia how do I vote? Well, I’m here to tell you. Going through the absentee process was a little daunting and I felt like I needed to simplify it a bit more some help out all my other American Expats out there so that they don’t miss out on the vote.
Today I am here to give you The Expat’s Guide to Voting Abroad in 3 Easy Steps!
What is an Absentee Ballot?
An Absentee Ballot is a vote that is submitted before an election by a voter who is not able to be present when the election occurs. (i.e. me living in Australia there is no way I’m going to make it to Maryland to vote…)
How do I submit an Absentee Ballot?
- Register to Vote – this is crucial. Depending on the state you will be voting under some may have restrictions such as if you are not registered to vote then you cannot vote via absentee ballot.
To register to vote visit www.fvap.gov
Once you have selected your state scroll to the bottom of the web page until you see a box named ‘Register to Vote, Request a Ballot, or Update My Voter Info’. This box gives you three options on how to register to vote.
- Use your states website to register to vote
- Use FVAP’s website to register to vote
- Complete form by Hand
Choose the whichever option is easiest for you.
After you register to vote you will receive your absentee ballot via email sometime over the upcoming weeks before the election.
While you are waiting to receive your absentee ballot do some research on each of the candidates to help you decide who you would like to vote for.
2. Print off and fill out Absentee Ballot
You will receive an email notifying you that you can access your ballot. The email you will receive may require you to login to your state’s board of elections website in order to access your ballot. (NOTE: When printing off the ballot they also give you the option to print the envelope. Australia’s envelope sizes are different than the USA’s and this may cause some of the wording to get cut off. If you are savvy enough with a computer you can simply resize the wording by turning it into an image and resizing from there and then printing that onto an envelope. Or if that is not you, handwriting the address on the envelope works too!
3. Mail Absentee Ballot to your state’s board of elections.
And there you have it quite simple! Now go out there and register to vote and get your absentee ballot today!