October 14, 2023

How to Vote From Portugal

How to Vote from Portugal

If you are a U.S. citizen (including dual-national) living abroad, you have the right to vote from abroad in the 2024 Presidential election and every election. If you are or will be 18 on Election Day, you can vote in the upcoming elections.

As a U.S. citizen, you can register to vote from abroad while living, working, or traveling overseas by submitting one form, the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). It doesn't matter if you were registered to vote before you left the U.S. or how long you have lived outside the U.S. (including if you've never resided there).

1. Register to vote and request your ballot📝

Visit http://www.votefromabroad.org to fill out your FPCA absentee ballot request — it takes 5-10 minutes! If you're not registered to vote, the FPCA also serves as a voter registration form. Given the continuing uncertainty surrounding the United States Postal Service (USPS), ask for your ballot to be delivered by email.

Once you've filled out the form on www.votefromabroad.org, you must submit it to your local election office in the United States. Most states allow you to submit your FPCA directly from www.votefromabroad.org without the need to print out the form. But some states do require that you print out your completed form to submit by email attachment, by fax, or by mail. If your state requires that you submit your FPCA by postal mail, vote and return your ballot as soon as possible. State deadlines and submission methods can be found here.

If you have any questions while filling out the form, you can also always refer to Vote from Abroad's FAQ section or type your question in the website's chat box (red circle in the bottom right-hand corner). Or you can email [email protected]

2. Confirm your ballot request was accepted and you'll receive a ballot ☑️

You should always verify with your local election official (LEO) that you will be receiving a ballot. After you send in your FPCA request form, call and/or email your LEO to verify they received it and will be sending a blank ballot to you. Your LEO's contact information is listed in the instructions generated when you complete the FPCA on Vote from Abroad. You can also look up their contact info here

Alternatively, most states provide a website where you can verify your voter status, although these sites can sometimes be outdated. You can find it by searching for "[state] verify voter registration."

3. Receive your ballot 📧

Under the MOVE Act, all states must send absentee ballots to overseas voters no later than 45 days before a federal election.

But you don't need to wait for ballots to come out. If you must mail back your ballot, we recommend you send in a Backup Ballot NOW. The Backup Ballot (the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, or FWAB) is specifically for overseas voters who are concerned they won't receive their official ballot in time to return it by the deadline. All details about the Backup Ballot can be found here.

When it's time for ballots to come and you don't see yours, check your spam folder –  ballots can hide in there! If you still don't see it, please contact your LEO and confirm they sent your ballot out. You can look up their contact info here. You may need to send in a new ballot request form, just go to www.votefromabroad.org.

If you don't have your ballot by October 1 and you must mail it back, we recommend you send in a Backup Ballot to make sure your vote gets to your state in time. All details about the Backup Ballot can be found here.

4. Information about candidates, ballot initiatives, and judicial candidates 🗳️

It’s very important to vote your ballot completely. The simplest way is to vote for Democrats straight down the ballot. Some elected positions do not have a party affiliation directly associated with the party, like school boards, judges, and others. To determine who to vote for in those cases, you can do the following:

  • Google your county's local Democratic Party
  • League of Women Voters offers a personalized ballot service at http://www.vote411.org/ballot. You can learn where candidates running for office in your community stand on the issues. You can print or email the information to use as a reference when you vote.
  • Google: Ballotpedia "your state" elections 2024 - Example: Ballotpedia Florida elections 2024
  • You can Google the candidate's name to find their campaign website and information about each person.

5. Return your ballot 🗳️

Once you've received your ballot, fill it out and return it immediately. Ballot return methods vary by state (online, email, postal mail, fax). Especially if your state only allows postal mail return — which is the case in many swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin — you must return your ballot as quickly as possible.

Check your state's exact ballot return methods here.

If your state allows email or fax ballot returns, please use these options as they’re not subject to delay. Here is more information on fax submission.

If your state requires postal mail ballot return, the best option at this point is to take your ballot to a post office.

We do not recommend booking or paying online with any courier service. You may not receive a postmark if you book or pay online.

Even with expedited courier services, ballots still take several days to get to the United States. You must send it as soon as possible! Do not wait. Too much is on the line!

Returning your ballot via diplomatic pouch: 

Voters in Portugal can drop their ballots at their closest U.S. Embassy

  • Lisbon
    Av. das Forças Armadas 133C, 1600-081 Lisboa
    Monday-Friday (except holidays) 08:00-17:00

Be sure to place your voting materials in an envelope using enough U.S. stamps and address it to the relevant local election officials.  Please be aware that using the diplomatic pouch does not mean your ballot will arrive faster. It can take up to four weeks for the mail to reach its final destination, and there is no way to trace the ballot. Therefore, we do not recommend using the diplomatic pouch after October 5th.

Regardless of how you send in your ballot, remember that you (the voter) must be the one who places it in the mail. In some states, it is unlawful for any other person to handle your voted ballot, even if it is sealed.

And when filling out your ballot and packaging your ballot, don't forget to review the instructions carefully. Don't let human error spoil your ballot!

6. Confirm your ballot's arrival at your local election office in the United States

Once you've mailed your ballot, follow up with your local election official to make sure that it arrived and will be counted. Please do not just assume that your ballot has made it! Nearly all states have online tracking services. To find your state's website, click here and scroll down to "Track Your Ballot". You can also look up your local election office's contact details here and try contacting them directly. They are experiencing an influx of calls, so you will likely need to remain persistent to get through to someone.

7. Having trouble? Need help? 😕

We understand that the voting process from abroad can be confusing — that's why we're here to help. Send an email to [email protected].

8. "I Voted from Portugal" & “I Voted” Stickers

Tell your friends on social media that you voted with an "I Voted from Portugal" sticker free of charge. Request yours here today: Download a digital sticker.

Your state may also have a sticker to share with you – for example, Maryland has several on their Board of Elections website page!