Election Day is drawing nearer, and there’s very limited time left to cast your vote and send in your overseas ballot! (And if you haven’t registered/requested your ballot, do so NOW: https://www.votefromabroad.org/ - many states have ballot request deadlines this week.)
The best way to return your ballot is by e-mail or fax, if your state allows it. But, if you’re in a state that requires ballot return via postal mail, we recommend using an international courier at this point. Services should cost around 6000 yen, but with airmail and USPS delays, and the Diplomatic Pouch taking around 3 weeks, it is one of the few options left to return your ballot so it is received on time. Voters who have used international courier recently are reporting it takes 4-5 business days for their ballot to arrive. Before you go, make sure you know your election office phone number and address if you use this option.
Always follow your Local Election Office instructions first to prepare your ballot materials. Here is some information that may help in the return process. These are not instructions to vote, just supplemental resources available. When mailing out your ballot, depending on your state, you will likely need 2 or 3 envelopes:
- The “secrecy” envelope, which the ballot usually goes into (required by some states). The template from the Federal Voting Assistance Program is here https://www.fvap.gov/uploads/FVAP/EO/fwabsecenv.pdf
- The official election envelope for all ballot materials sending to your local election office https://www.fvap.gov/uploads/FVAP/Forms/fwab_envelope.pdf
- The envelope for mailing it from Japan using international courier. The courier usually provides this envelope or charges a small fee for it. The simple Japanese word for documents is 書類（しょるい）.
The first envelope usually goes inside the second envelope, and then the second inside the third.
If your ballot has not yet arrived, as an overseas voter, you can send in a Federal Write-in Absentee backup Ballot. Go to www.votefromabroad.org/fwab, download your sample ballot, and write in your choices. If your official ballot arrives and you send it as well, you should try to send an email to your local election official to let them know both are on their way. Contact information at www.votefromabroad.org/states.
Happy voting, everyone!
Democrats Abroad Japan Executive Committee
John Baumlin, Kiyoko Ayukawa, Anna Costello, & Dave Brauer