September 22 is the 45 day deadline for states to send absentee ballots to overseas voters.
One of the most common questions we hear at the Voter Help Desk is "When will I get my ballot?" It's a great question, especially because there is an answer. Election officials are required to send overseas absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election, or no later than Saturday, September 22 this year.
So if you've already sent in your ballot request or registration to your local election office and you asked to receive your ballot by email, it should arrive this Saturday. (Mailed ballots will take longer due to mail delivery time.)
This is a really important date for Americans abroad to know about because if you think you're registered but you don't get your ballot today, it's an early indication that there is a problem with your ballot request. The great news is that we can help you resolve these issues if you address them early enough - and especially before your state's ballot request deadline.
I didn't get my ballot!
If you have already requested to receive your ballot by email/online or fax, wait until Monday, Sept 24, and then contact your election office to find out why. Check your email's spam folder to see if email from an unfamiliar sender got erroneously misrouted.
I didn’t get my ballot! (But I asked for it to come by postal mail.)
If you requested to receive your ballot by mail – or if you did not specify a preference – you need to account for airmail transit time from your election office to your current location.
But this is tricky because we don't want you to wait too long only to find out that there is a problem with your ballot request (e.g. expired, never received, rejected). If you have not already verified the status of your ballot request this year, do so now. Find your election office on www.votefromabroad.org (includes email addresses and telephone numbers). Try emailing or calling, but don't give up if you do not receive a response. And then next year, request to receive your ballot by email.
Did you get a ballot to vote in a primary in 2018?
This is a good litmus test to know if you will get your ballot. Overseas voters only need to submit one ballot request to cover all the elections in a year. So if you got a ballot for a primary, that means your election office has a valid request from you that will cover the midterms. That doesn't mean there can't be other problems, like your ballot getting delayed or lost in the mail.
What if they tell me they never got my request?
This is easy to deal with if it's addressed NOW. Complete a new request form at www.votefromabroad.org and submit it right away. Take advantage of electronic transmission options to speed up the process. Most states accept the ballot request form sent by Email or Fax. Additionally, you can choose to receive your ballot by Email or Fax. This means that an application submitted today by Email will be processed by your election office next week, and you can receive a ballot by Email by week's end.
I didn't apply yet. Does this mean it's too late?
No, but deadlines are approaching so the time to request a ballot or to register to vote is now. Complete a request form at www.votefromabroad.org and submit it right away. We recommend choosing to receive your ballot by Email or Fax. Send your completed form by Email or Fax (follow the rules for your state) to speed up the process.
Many states have voter registration deadlines starting October 7. The earliest ballot request deadline is October 16. Find Look up your state's deadlines on www.votefromabroad.org (includes transmission options).
You can have your ballot in a matter of days, and send it back early to guarantee it will be received well before the ballot return deadline.
A few tips for successful overseas voting
💡Take advantage of electronic transmission options to speed up the process.
💡Your election official can make mistakes. Officials have different experience and comprehension of laws, so sometimes we need to inform them.
💡Contact the Voter Help Desk with any problems or questions. firstname.lastname@example.org