The French media has always had a fascination with the American presidential election system. Every four years, they trot out “US experts” who explain the arcane Electoral College to their baffled French viewers, and point out what the red and blue areas on the map mean. And, being French, they engage in one of their favorite exercises: moderating debates.
We had a hunch that French media interest in the 2020 US Presidential election would be particularly intense, and we wanted to ensure that we were ready to meet the triple challenge of explaining the role of Democrats Abroad in helping overseas Americans vote, educating the French public about the American election system, and promoting the Biden-Harris ticket as well as the down-ballot Democratic candidates. To do so, the DAFrance national leadership prioritized expanding the experienced spokespersons pool so that it better represented the diversity of our leadership and our regional geography.
If you’ve never been a press spokesperson, you probably can’t imagine what a perilous exercise it can be to go on live TV and radio to answer questions from journalists who excel in getting their guests to say something controversial. You must be careful about every word that comes out of your mouth, because you are there not to give your personal opinion, but rather to “carry the word” of the organization you represent. [The French word for spokesperson– “porte-parole”– expresses this perfectly.]
To be an effective spokesperson for an organization such as Democrats Abroad, there are many elements to master: knowing what to say, knowing how to say it, answering difficult questions, and, of course, skillfully wielding the spokesperson’s specialty: NOT answering certain questions, but rather pivoting to a slightly different topic. (If you’ve ever watched a politician being interviewed and thought “well, what he just said was interesting, but he didn’t really answer the question”, you know what a pivot is.)
So, the DA France leadership and Comms team recruited leaders who had relevant experience, or were willing to learn, and would have the time to devote to the team’s effort once the requests started pouring in. We set up a training program, led by former professional spokesperson, Amy Porter. It quickly became clear to all that you don’t magically become a media spokesperson: it involves training, homework and practice.
From top left (clockwise): Joe Smallhoover, Philip Breeden, Amy Below, Didier Moutou, Gretchen Pascalis, Kate Barrett, Julia Grégoire, Fred Hoffman, Amy Porter.
Our team of 18 trained spokespeople, reaching every corner of l'Hexagone, was comprised of diverse profiles: from teachers and fitness coaches to former State Department staffers, lawyers, and constitutional law experts. They each attended practice sessions where we tried our darndest to get them flustered! Armed with frequently updated Talking Points, the team handled more than 130 media hits by election day, of which 100 were done between November 3rd and 8th. In this whirlwind of activity, some spokespeople did as many as 5 interviews per day, including:
- Panel discussions, interviews, and debates with Republicans.
- National media outlets, such as LCI, BFM, M6, FranceInfo, RTL, FranceInter, France24, Libération and Le Parisien as well as numerous local television, radio stations and newspapers.
The appetite for debates in the French media was seemingly endless, as was the stream of Republican spokespeople. But we outmatched them: the people invited to TV studios had not benefited from the professional training that our spokespeople had undergone, and were armed only with “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories. In that respect, they accurately represented their candidate… Some of those debates got a “bit” heated. But our team rose to the occasion time and again, showing calmly and patiently that truth prevails over lies.
We continued to comment on the election results through mid-November, and expected a quiet few weeks until Inauguration Day. That calm came to an abrupt halt with the Capitol Insurrection on Jan. 6th, which we were compelled to comment on in real time as the events of the day unfolded! No amount of training or talking points could have prepared us for that… But we persisted, and were again asked to comment on TV, radio and print through the Biden-Harris Inauguration Day, doing an additional 49 hits in January, after which we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Here are a few examples of DA France spokespeople in action (and a trip down memory lane):
November 1: Le Progrès (Lyon) with Diane Sklar
November 4: France 24 with Amy Below
November 5: France 3 (Paris/IdF) with Didier Moutou
November 6: FranceInfo with Fred Hoffman
November 7: France 24 with Gretchen Pascalis
November 7: Libération with Ada Shen and Amy Porter
November 8: BFM with Philip Breeden
January 19: 20 Minutes (Toulouse) with Scott Stroud
January 20: LCI with Julia Grégoire
February 9: LCI with Amy Porter
DA France is proud of the work done by the Media team, which has led to a higher profile in France for Democrats Abroad, supporting our mission around the world. Now, we stand ready for whatever the news cycle throws our way.
Thanks to our spokespeople! (in alphabetic order)
Following are the National, Caucus and Chapter elections taking place this Spring 2021 across Democrats Abroad France. Public election notices with details will go out to every Chapter and Caucus member as well as Nationally. (Updated Feb. 13)
National Caucus Annual General Meeting & Elections
- Diversity Caucus - Sat. March 6, 2021
- LGBTQ+ Caucus - Sat. March 27, 2021
- Veterans & Military Families Caucus - Mon. March 15, 2021
- Women's Caucus - Thu. March 11, 2021
- Youth Caucus - Sat. March 13, 2021
- Avignon Chapter - Sat. March 6, 2021
- Bordeaux Chapter - Sun. March 14, 2021
- Brittany Chapter - Sat. March 20, 2021
- Grenoble Chapter - Sun. March 21, 2021
- Lyon Chapter - Thu. March 4, 2021
- Marseille Chapter - Sat. March 13, 2021
- Montpellier Chapter - Sun. March 14, 2021
- Normandy Chapter - Sat. March 13, 2021
- Paris Chapter - Sat. March 13, 2021
- Riviera Chapter - Wed. March 3, 2021
- Strasbourg Chapter - Sun. March 7, 2021
- Toulouse Chapter - Sun. March 7, 2021
Democrats Abroad France National Annual General Meeting & Elections
- DA France National Officer & Voting Representative Elections - Sat. April 17, 2021 - Save the Date! Details TBA
(All DA members in France may vote in the DA France National elections.)
Democrats Abroad Global Annual General Meeting & Elections
- Democrats Abroad Global Meeting & Election - Sat. - Sun. May 15-16, 2021 - Save the Date! Details TBA
(Voting Members of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad "DPCA" may vote in the DA Global Meeting and Elections. The DPCA Voting members of France are the Chair, Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, and Voting Representatives.)
Black History Month Essay: Destination Paris 2020
by Florence Ladd
While packing my household goods and clothes for shipping, I am interrupted frequently by telephone calls from a vast network of friends. “Are you really moving abroad?” “Is it wise at your age?” “Your friends are here. How will you find such good friends there?” “Are you really giving up your lovely Cambridge apartment?” “Do you realize how much Paris has changed?” “Why move now when we’re making progress on racial matters here?”
I am in sound health, of sound mind, and at age eighty-eight, if not now – when? My third and last husband of thirty-five years died six months ago. My only child, poet/musician Michael Ladd, has lived in Paris since 2003. He and his translator wife, Fanny, live in the 9th arrondissement with their two children. I want a closer connection to my adolescent grandchildren. Weekly visits via Zoom are not entirely satisfying. And admittedly, I want relief from my profound emotional involvement in the struggle for racial justice and my distress about political responsibility and civility in this country.
The circumstances of my moving usually convince doubters that the move is necessary, indeed, inevitable. The move is not only inevitable, it seems preordained. On my twelfth birthday in June 1944, I told my parents that I intended to go to Paris before I turned twenty. Neither my father nor my mother had ever been abroad. I believe Dad was amused by my imagination and, at the same time, proud of my ambition. Mom took me seriously; she also took me shopping for a Moroccan leather shoulder bag for the future trip abroad.
My attention had been drawn to Paris by broadcasts during World War II. On radio, Paris was described as a prime city of dramatic events in the European theater. It is also likely that my interest was influenced by what I read of “Negroes” in Paris in our household newspapers, The Afro-American and Pittsburgh Courier. These weekly papers featured articles about black literary figures, journalists, actors and musicians in Paris. I was fascinated by photographs of Josephine Baker, whose designer gowns, plumes and stories fueled my Paris fantasies.
In my junior year at Howard University, I applied for a travel fellowship. A psychology major, I proposed “observing psychological test procedures in clinics for children in France and Switzerland.” I was awarded a fellowship, given additional funds from parents, and a letter of introduction from my advisor, Professor James A. Bayton to Professor Henri Wallon at the Sorbonne.
In May 1952, aboard the M/S Nelly, the shoulder bag at my hip, I waved to my parents who returned the wave from a pier in New York harbor. I was not yet twenty and on my way to Paris. The nine-day crossing on a ship of college and university students afforded time to share stories of preparations for the journey, maps, family photographs, clothes and to practice my French. We disembarked at Le Havre. From there, I took a train to Paris. I had the Paris address of a classmate’s older sister, Lunette Cato. I located Lunette in a gloomy student hotel on rue Cujas in the 5th arrondissement. We shared a double room. We also shared the only toilet on our floor and made appointments with the desk clerk for once-a-week baths. Paris, at that time, was recovering from Nazi occupation, wartime horrors and other hardships. I appreciated the advantage of not having had that war cross the Atlantic.
At the Sorbonne, I presented my letter of introduction to the venerable, bearded Professor Wallon. He read it and on it he wrote: Dr. Nadine Galifret-Granjon, Hôpital Henri Roussel, along with a street address. I was being forwarded to another psychologist, a woman based at a clinic, which I found after a lengthy walk along streets that seemed endless.
The clinic's receptionist presented me, along with the letter, to Dr. Galifret-Granjon. With a warm smile, alert blue eyes, and lyrical voice, she welcomed me. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties, a very mature age from my nineteen-year-old perspective. In French, she explained that she and others at the clinic were engaged in research on dyslexia. This much I understood. When she realized I was unable to follow her rapid speech, she slowed and in English began an inquiry into my competence. Immediately, she discovered that my French was inadequate; that I knew very little about child psychology, and nothing at all about psychological testing or dyslexia. She asked a few more questions and learned that I also knew nothing about cuisine, wine, contemporary art, or European politics; and that I was misinformed about Communism and unaware of existentialism. Her eyes filled with pity; at the same time, her smile broadened. At that moment, I became her project!
As we toured the clinic, she introduced me to her colleagues and students, with obvious enthusiasm about the arrival of an American student -- a black American sent to France by a black university. She was intrigued; and I was flattered, although apprehensive about the prospect of being an observer in the clinic; and even more apprehensive about having my shortcomings observed. I was given a schedule of cases to monitor.
Nadine (with her permission, I used her first name) also proposed a schedule of cultural and social events to take in after clinic hours. On several occasions, she invited me to join her and her colleagues for an apéritif. She facilitated my comprehension of restaurant menus and wine lists; and she improved, that is, corrected my French. She recommended museum exhibitions, films, and concerts; took me to lectures on Communism, and urged me to attend political demonstrations. My cultural and political education was expanded and enriched tremendously under her guidance. [She smoked cigarettes. I had been advised to take a carton of Camels abroad—useful currency in post-war Paris. She called Camels les cigarettes reactionaires and introduced me to blue packaged Gauloise.]
At the clinic, I also observed Nadine. Her professional style was impeccable. She was precise and clear in her conversations with colleagues. With children who came for observation and tests, she was kind, supportive, and reassuring. After work hours, at cafés she was an uncompromising intellectual who debated ideas with authority and confidence in the company of men and other women. She became important to me as a model of professional womanhood.
To be sure, growing up in segregated Washington, D.C., I had encountered other professional women – all black. My mother, an elementary school teacher, was my first and nearest model of professionalism. I admired many women teachers in the public schools I attended. At Howard I had a few women professors, but none in psychology. Our family pediatrician was a woman. In those relationships, I was not accorded treatment as an adult with ideas that mattered. That my recognition of my maturity and awakening of my intellectual being occurred in Paris explains, in part, my early attachment to the city.
In 1952 Paris my skin color was a distinguishing feature. With few African American women there, my race was an asset. It offered occasions for conversations with Parisians curious -- in a kindly fashion -- about my experience of segregation and discrimination. Strangers, recognizing my race and foreignness, frequently asked, “D’où êtes vous?” When I replied Washington, D.C. or America or, as I began to say, les États Unis, I was drawn into sidewalk and café discussions about the treatment of (les Noirs) blacks there, about my experience as black in America, and had me speculate about how and when U.S. race relations might change. Once I was “picked up” on Boul’ Mich by a family-- a couple with three children -- and invited to join them for their Sunday déjeuner in a Latin quarter restaurant. I hardly ate, as I recall, because I had to answer their many questions: “Was slavery still practiced in the American south?” “Could blacks go to restaurants, concerts, films, and museums with whites?” “Were schools and churches segregated? And neighborhoods?” “Could blacks own property?” “What was the president doing about the condition of blacks?”
In gatherings with Nadine’s associates, the discussions were different. They were acquainted with the history of blacks in the U.S. and the political and racial climate in the USA. Their remarks were about the malevolence of capitalism, threat of McCarthyism, and the works of Richard Wright, exiled in Paris. They adored Mahalia Jackson, lingered over her every phrase, every chord.
For Wright, Paris was “a perch from which to examine” his native land. Viewed as American, I began to examine the complexity and contradiction of race and citizenship. Feeling “American” in Paris stirred a large measure of my discomfort with my national identity. I was aware of my ambivalence about being a U.S. citizen and my embarrassment about U.S. history.
My sojourn in Paris wasn’t entirely about my time with Nadine. I also did what tourists do: visited Notre Dame, explored the Louvre, Musée de l’Homme, and several other museums. I was photographed with the Eiffel Tower in the background. From a Vassar student, tired and sore from cycling across England, I bought a bicycle – an almost new Rudge. I cycled in and around Paris; and I made a memorable and beautiful day-long solo trip to Chartres. At Nadine’s suggestion I spent a weekend in Burgundy. She said I had to see Dijon and Beaune. But my idea of France was defined by Paris and particularly by scenes in the 5th and 6th arrondissements – their café culture, bookstores, and intense conversations.
In that year, I visited other cities as well: Geneva, Florence (to be sure), Rome and London. Tours, public encounters and personal contacts in each city expanded my notions of the essentials of urban life; and, more personally, the relevance and irrelevance of race.
Decades of travel abroad, with the advantage of a U.S. passport, have sharpened my perspective on aspects of national character, social class and race. Living in Turkey in the early 1960s, specifically in Eskişehir and Istanbul, where I taught psychology, afforded exposure to an Islamic culture in which gender-segregation and discrimination shaped social, cultural and economic relations. Later in the ‘60s, with my archeologist husband, I traveled in the Caribbean, Mexico, Guatemala, and Brazil. In the ‘70s, I went to China with a group of women architects and city planners. The culturally multi-layered Francophone countries I visited in West Africa, especially Senegal, in the ‘80s had an ethnic appeal. On an educational assignment in apartheid South Africa, I witnessed the ruinous effects of an extremely oppressive racist system. In India, to survey projects sponsored by Oxfam America, I recognized how the complex dimensions of caste, class and religion mattered. I have visited several Western European countries, frequently returning to France, to visit Nadine until her death in 1987. (I’ve sailed up the Danube and down the Nile.) This abbreviated overview is to say I have seen enough of the world to know where I want to spend my last years and leave my ashes.
I have spent considerably more time in the United States than abroad. I struggled with racism as a graduate student in upstate New York. For many years in liberal New England, I have picketed, marched and taken part in demonstrations for freedom and justice.
I know I am not moving to the Paris of 1952. Paris 2020, now more cosmopolitan, is under clouds of pandemic predicament, socio-economic protests, and now the Black Lives Matter movement. Race and religion are salient aspects of discrimination in contemporary France, where the history of slavery in France is under study; and where liberté, égalité, fraternité ring as paradoxical slogans to people of color in France’s major cities. Since the 1960s, the black and brown population of Paris has increased markedly with arrivals from the Antilles, North Africa and Francophone West Africa. The class resistance of les gilets jaunes is another expression of change in Paris and throughout France.
I try out terms describing my future status: exile, immigrant, expatriate, or simply living abroad. Exile implies having sought refuge in another country, usually for political reasons. As an immigrant, one enters a country with the objective of establishing permanent residence. I have applied for a long stay visa. Expatriates are thought to renounce allegiance to one’s native country. Have I ever felt such allegiance? I’ll be content with living abroad – living in Paris.
But where in Paris? My son said, “I know your friends live on the Left Bank in the 5th, 6th and 7th, Mom, but you can’t afford to live there.” I have six women friends – French, Swiss and American – all on the Left Bank. He added, “Besides we want you in an apartment within walking distance of our place.” They live in the 9th, near Place Saint Georges. Their market street, rue des Martyrs, gained literary fame in The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino. My favorite hairdresser, Bettina’s Hair Élégance, is around the corner on rue Clauzel. I plan to revive my association with WICE (Where Internationals Connect in English), where I directed a writing workshop at the turn-of-the-century. I’ll enroll in an intermediate French class, attend public lectures, and join a club for water aerobics.
I was ambivalent about returning to the U.S. in 1963, an epoch comparable to this period, with respect to social and political upheaval. My sentiments, published in the March 1965, Negro Digest, under the caption “Return of a Native Daughter,” included this exchange:
With the inflection of surprise, the young Turkish woman said, “Well, you are the very first American I have ever met who was not looking forward to going home.” Then came her candid second thought, “But you are the first American black I have known.” I considered my bleak past as a Negro in America and the uncertain future for me and my generation of blacks. “Of course, my color has a great deal to do with my reluctance, my dread of returning to the United States.” I did not speak of returning as “going home.” The country had never provided me with the safety, the comfort, the freedom that the word “home” implies.
When I board the flight from Boston to Paris, will I feel I’m going home? No, I will be leaving the country to which I have had an attachment my entire life. It is the country where my first generation-emancipated grandfathers worked at menial jobs to ensure sturdy foundations for my parents. They, in turn, with their best efforts, afforded my son and me the privilege of choosing how and where we want to live. I will leave with gratitude for their sacrifices, carrying baggage loaded with the ongoing struggle against U.S. racism and concern about the nation’s destiny.
Florence Ladd attended public schools in Washington, D.C. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in psychology from Howard University and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Rochester.
Dr. Ladd has had an extensive career as a teacher and administrator. She has taught at Simmons College, Robert College, the American College for Girls in Istanbul, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has held deanships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wellesley College. Ladd also has a great deal of experience working abroad as she has spent time in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Turkey, China
Florence Ladd is the author of numerous nonfiction and fiction works and has served as the overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College. Previously, she served on the board of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Among other honors she received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University in 2018.
As is tradition, on this Veterans Day/Armistice Day/Remembrance Day, the Democrats Abroad France Veterans and Military Families Caucus laid wreaths in cemeteries in Suresnes and Neuilly to honor our fallen soldiers. Here are a few photos from yesterday. Thanks to Anna Marie Mattson and Tilly Gaillard for their efforts on behalf of all Democrats living in France.
In addition, the DA France Veterans and Military Families Caucus held a well-attended Zoom event where thoughts and memories were shared, including these two videos:
Democrats Abroad Global Chair Julia Bryan has issued the following statement:
"Tonight Joe Biden reminded us that 'It ain't over until every vote, every ballot is counted.'
It is going to take time to count the votes, and some states are still waiting for a sizeable number of mail-in votes to arrive. Trump may declare that it's over and no more votes will be counted, but he has no standing to carry through with that statement.
Even in 'normal' years elections results take time, and that the overwhelming number of vote by mail ballots by necessity will take even longer than usual to tabulate."
Ada Shen, Chair of Democrats Abroad France, underscores this point, saying that "there is a process in place by which the United States conducts elections. It is only normal to expect that each state will follow the vote counting procedures and to adhere to the protections in place for all voters, including overseas absentee voters."
You can listen to Joe Biden's full statement here.
Here are some of the recent appearances by Democrats Abroad France representatives and mentions of DA France in the news!
November 8: LCI with Gretchen Pascalis (French language)
November 8: BFM with Philip Breeden (French language)
November 7: CNEWS with Philip Breeden (French language)
November 7: Libération with Ada Shen and Amy Porter
November 4: LCI- Brunet Direct with Julia Grégoire
November 4: RFI podcast with Fred Hoffman (French language)
October 26: TV78 Patrice Carmouse and Friends with Amy Porter (French language)
November 1: Le Progrès - Diane Sklar (French language)
October 31: NPR - Joe Smallhoover (English language)
October 27: Direct Citoyen - Didier Moutou (French language)
October 23: CNEWS - Amy Porter (French language)
October 20: ESCP Debate - Jonathon Holler & Ada Shen (English language)
October 22: INSPIRELLE - Voters Abroad
October 9: France 24 - Amy Porter (English language)
With the "changing of the guard" of the Democrats Abroad team at the Democratic National Committee, we wanted to to express our deepest thanks to Connie Borde on behalf of DA France for your service as one of Democrats Abroad's DNC representatives. So we held a party via Zoom with many current and former leaders of Democrats Abroad France, Global Chair of Democrats Abroad Julia Bryan, and a special guest appearance from Representative Jame Raskin (MD 8th district).
If you were unable to join us, here is the recording of the Zoom call. The beginning is a moving video in Connie's honor which gives a good idea of how far Democrats Abroad France has come...with Connie's constant, unflagging presence. Toward the end of the recording you'll also find an animated discourse by Jamie Raskin. Have a look!
Connie has long been a champion of progressive values. She has been a friend and mentor to countless among us within the DAFrance leadership, the Global Women's Caucus, and, indeed, Democrats Abroad. Your tireless efforts to push Democratic politics to be more, and do more, have left a lasting impression on us all and surely has done so on a great many who had the pleasure of working shoulder to shoulder with you at the DNC.
Thank you for representing us and inspiring us Connie. And thank you for always keeping us apprised of what was happening within the Democratic National Committee. It was an exceptional convention, maybe the best one ever — and we hope a harbinger of resounding victory for Democrats this November.
Connie may have completed her term as DNC Representative, but we will all continue to benefit from her leadership of the Democrats Abroad Global Women's Caucus.
It has never been more important to get out every vote, EVERYWHERE! And, this year, we have a host of motivated volunteers helping Democrats Abroad France and VoteFromAbroad.org to do just that!
Through October, VotefromAbroad.org volunteers will be on hand to help US citizens living abroad register to vote, request their absentee ballot, and to protect their vote with the Backup Ballot (the FWAB). Please see below for a complete listing of the In-Person Voter Assistance events on the calendar in France.
* Please note that Covid safety measures mean that we may not exceed 10 persons at any point in time, and you may need to wait or return at a later time. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.
If you cannot stop by one of our in-person events, there is One-on-One Voter Assistance available online (via Zoom) Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Here's the link for times. Join any of these Zoom Meetings using the following connection information
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/91090344003,
Meeting ID: 910 9034 4003
IN PERSON EVENTS (PARIS REGION)
SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS:
Every vote counts. Make sure that your vote is counted! #NovemberIsNow for voters living abroad. If you need help with voter registration or ballot return, please come to see us. And, tell your friends! #EveryVoteCounts
by Connie Borde, Co-Chair of the DAFrance Women's Caucus, formerly DNC Representative and Chair of Democrats Abroad France.
Today is a sad day. Like many Americans, I mourn the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And like many American women who came of age in the 60s, I lost the woman who stood for everything I believed in and who had our backs: equal rights for those who were deprived them, for women like me, but also for the many in our society.
Here’s what Bill Clinton said when he appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court:
“Throughout her life, she has repeatedly stood for the individual, the person less well off, the outsider in society, and has given these people greater hope by telling them that they have a place in our legal system, by giving them a sense that the Constitution and the laws protect all the American people, not simply the powerful.”
All of RBGs written opinions reflected her beliefs, she never wavered. When the Court sadly moved to the right, her dissenting opinions were eloquent monuments to the cause of equal justice under the law for all: minority rights, voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, gender equality, and more.
While we mourn her death, we’d better get ready for the fight.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Women of the world, mourn….and unite. We cannot accept a ramrod nomination.
As of August 28, 2020
Most states will allow their overseas voters to return their voted ballot by email, online, or fax, but if you vote in one of the following 20 states*, you must still return a ballot by POSTAL MAIL:
Arkansas (AR), Connecticut (CT), Georgia (GA), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Kentucky (KY), Maryland (MD), Michigan (MI), Minnesota (MN), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Ohio (OH), Pennsylvania (PA), South Dakota (SD), Tennessee (TN), Texas (TX), Virginia (VA), Vermont (VT), and Wisconsin (WI)
Due to postal mail service disruptions in the US and abroad, if you vote in one of these states we strongly advise that you PROTECT YOUR VOTE and VOTE NOW with a Backup Ballot, and return it by mail right away. The Backup Ballot, also known as the FWAB (Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot), is a ballot especially for overseas absentee voters who have sent in a ballot request to use to help make sure their vote gets counted.
You can vote and mail back a Backup Ballot first while you wait for your official state ballot to arrive. Then when your official state ballot arrives, you can vote and mail that back too — it is not double-voting**. If your voted state ballot is received by your election officials in time, they will count it and ignore the Backup Ballot.
* As of August 28:
- WY voters may return a ballot either by email or by fax depending on their county — please check with your local election officials, or follow return instructions that will come with your official ballot.
- New Jersey voters may return a ballot by email or fax first but must still send in the original hardcopy ballot by postal mail at the same time.
- Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s Emergency Election Directive for the General Election - all UOCAVA/FPCA voters may return their voted ballot electronically.
- Missouri has declared all Missouri voters overseas “inaccessible” and they are allowed to return their voted ballot by EMAIL.
- Vermont is allowing EMAIL return for Vermont voters voting from countries without functional postal mail systems. France is not one of these countries.
** Per 52 USC sec 20303(d): Second ballot submission; instruction to absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter. An absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter who submits a Federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives a State absentee ballot, may submit the State absentee ballot. See also DA FAQ; see also FVAP FAQ.
TO VOTE WITH THE BACKUP BALLOT NOW:
First, make sure you have already sent in a ballot request/registration this year. If you haven’t done this yet, do it now at votefromabroad.org.
- When filling out the FPCA form, be sure to ask to receive your ballot by EMAIL/ONLINE.
Then, go ahead and VOTE by returning a BACKUP BALLOT.
- You can fill it out online here -- just follow directions to vote, print, sign and return it to your election officials.
- You'll find more detailed information on the Backup Ballot here.
What is on your state ballot? You can look up a sample ballot here
Note: When filling in the Backup Ballot, you can also vote by Party (for example, you can write in “President - Democrat”).
- Note: When filling in the Backup Ballot, you can also vote by Party (for example, you can write in “President - Democrat”).
Once your state ballot is delivered, vote that too!
If you requested to receive your ballot by EMAIL/ONLINE, you will receive your ballot in your email inbox on or before September 19 (45 days in advance of the November 3 General Election.)
You can vote that ballot too and mail it back right away. If it arrives in time, your local election official will only count your official state ballot, and discard the Backup Ballot.
When mailing a ballot, you have the following options:
- Via local mail. Be sure to use sufficient international postage for your ballot. Consider sending via a method that can be tracked such as la lettre suivie internationale.
- Via US Embassy or Consular mail bag. American Citizen Services is accepting voting materials for the “diplomatic pouch” but this method is often much slower from France than local postal service, taking 3-4 weeks normally. Your mail MUST have correct US postage, or use a US-postage-paid envelope. (Get a printable US-postage-paid ballot envelope template, here.)
- Via international express courier. Those considering delivery by DHL, FedEx, UPS, Collissimo or Chronopost should first check with their local election official whether they can accept delivery via this method as proof of returning your ballot from overseas.
Make sure your vote is counted.
After you have voted, you can check with your local election officials to make sure that your ballot was received. Go to www.votefromabroad.org/states. Click on your voting state. Then scroll down to "Am I Registered" to find the contact information for your local election officials.
Have questions or need help?
You can send your questions via email to [email protected]. Or, while you are on the votefromabroad.org website, find the red bubble in the lower right hand corner to chat with an overseas voting expert at the helpdesk.