FPCA Protections for Voters Abroad

Why should I send an FPCA as an overseas voter, rather than using a regular in-state absentee ballot request?

We strongly recommend that all overseas voters submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to let your Local Election Official know you are living and voting from abroad. The FPCA is only one page and acts like an address update--but it also provides significant advantages that are only available to overseas voters:

  1. An FPCA sent in the calendar year of an election, protects your ballot at the federal level in case of a recount. (A ballot that doesn't have a corresponding ballot request form may be subject to challenge in a close election).
  2. You will receive a ballot for every election in that calendar year, including primaries, special elections and runoff elections by submitting the single request.
  3. You can use the form to request your blank ballot be sent to you via an electronic option (email, online and/or fax) instead of postal mail. Every state will send a blank ballot electronically.
  4. Your state must send your blank ballot no less than 45 days before the election.
  5. If you don't receive your blank ballot in time to return it in by the deadline, you can use the federal backup ballot, the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), to cast your vote.
  6. Many states allow overseas voters additional time to return their voted ballot, and some states allow overseas voters to submit voted ballots using an electronic option (email, online and/or fax).

Mark your calendar: for the 2018 Midterm Elections, overseas voters can expect requested blank ballots will be sent by September 22.
 > add 45 Day reminder to your calendar

Why should I send in the FPCA to request my ballot every calendar year?

Under federal law, states are only required to send you a ballot if you submit the form to request it that calendar year, even if you're a registered voter. Some states are more generous and will send blank blllots without an annual request; others are very strict. So we advise all overseas voters to be safe and send an FPCA in each year: the best practice is to send in a new form every January and any time you move. You don't want any unexpected surprises that cause you to miss your chance to vote!

Overseas voters use the FPCA both to register to vote initially and to request a ballot each year. The FPCA is only one page and you can fill it out online at VoteFromAbroad.org (you can create a "Voter Account" to save some of the form information you enter for your future use1). And the one form will cover you for all elections in the calendar year: primary, general and upcoming special elections of which you may not be aware. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Go to www.votefromabroad.org, click on "Start Here" and follow the prompts.
  2. Print out and sign the form.
  3. Return the form to your Local Election Official by mail, email or fax, using information in the Instructions from the website. (The email, phone and fax information is on a separate page from the mailing address.) Submission methods and deadlines vary by state, but please note that you do not need to show a foreign postmark or get a consular stamp.

After you send in your FPCA, be sure to verify with your Local Election Official that they received your application and will be sending a ballot to you. The applicable contact information will be in the printed Instructions, or you can also look up the contact information using the Election Official Directory.

If you have any questions while filling out the form, the website has an online chat box (click the orange circle in the lower right corner of the screen) to contact the Voter Help Desk, or send an email to [email protected].

Only your Local Election Official in the US can accept your voter registration and send out your ballot.

Hint: if you did not received a ballot to vote in your state's 2018 primary election, you most likely will not be getting a ballot to vote in the General Election--UNLESS you submit a new FPCA.

I'm already a registered voter and my state always send me a ballot. Why should I send in the FPCA anyway?

Even though you may vote in a state that typically sends out a ballot without an annual request we still urge all overseas voters to send in their form to request a ballot every year to make sure you will be able to vote. Don't find out too late that you've missed your chance to vote!

And even if you decide not to send in the form this year, it's still very important to email or call your election official to verify that you will be getting a ballot this year. Mistakes happen, states change voting rules--don't wait to find out if your ballot will come--Verify! 

Every election, we hear from voters who find out too late that they won't be able to vote because they missed the deadline to request their ballot.

The most reliable way to verify you will be receiving a ballot this calendar year is to email or call your Local Election Official. You can look up the contact information using the Election Official Directory. Most states also provide online voter registration checks to verify your voter status, but they are not always up-to-date.

Be safe, be sure, be counted!



1 The VoteFromAbroad.org Voter Account will never store personal identification information such as Social Security number (SSN), driver's license number, Passport number or any such identifier.