If you're a U.S. citizen or dual-national, you have the right to vote from abroad in federal elections — don't let anyone tell you otherwise, especially in this critical election year!
Wenn Du die U.S.-amerikanische oder doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft besitzt, hast Du das Recht darauf, bei U.S-Wahlen auf Bundesebene zu wählen — lass Dir nichts anderes einreden, vor allem nicht in diesem kristischen Wahljahr!
Last updated: October 24, 2020
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).
Below you'll find an overview of the entire process of voting from abroad, including:
1. how to register to vote and request your ballot
2. how to confirm your request has been accepted
3. how and when you should receive your ballot
4. how to return your ballot
5. confirm your ballot's arrival
6. what to do if you encounter difficulties,
7. and how to get an "I voted from Germany" sticker!
Please note that there is NO IN-PERSON VOTING in Germany for the November election!
1.) Register to vote and request your ballot 📝
Visit www.votefromabroad.org to fill out your FPCA absentee ballot request — it only takes 5-10 minutes! If you're not registered to vote, the FPCA also serves as a voter registration form. Given the uncertainty surrounding the United States Postal Service (USPS), we strongly encourage you to request that your absentee ballot is sent to you via email.
|Watch a video on how to use www.votefromabroad.org in English or auf Deutsch.|
Once you've filled out the form on www.votefromabroad.org, you will need to submit it to your local election office in the United States. While some states allow the FPCA to be submitted online via Vote from Abroad, others require a scanned or hard copy (the website will provide instructions based on the state you're voting in). If your state requires that you submit your FPCA by postal mail, please use expedited delivery with a courier (read about our discount with FedEx below). 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 chatbox (red circle in the bottom right-hand corner).
2.) Confirm your request has been accepted and that you will 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 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 📬
As required under the MOVE Act, all states must send absentee ballots to overseas voters no later than 45 days before a federal election (this year: September 19, 2020). You should have received your ballot by now. If you requested it and have not received it, please contact your LEO and submit a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). You can also contact Democrats Abroad if you need help. There's no downside to submitting a FWAB. But you should also mail in your official ballot as soon as you receive it. All details about the FWAB can be found at the bottom of this page.*
4.) 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 — it is imperative that you return your ballot as quickly as possible. Try to return your ballot within 48 hours of receiving it.
Check your state's exact ballot return methods here.
If your state allows email or fax ballot return, please use these options as they’re not subject to delay. Here is more information on fax submission. Please note that some states that allow email or fax return require that the ballot be sent by postal mail, too.
Need help scanning? Watch this video on how to scan using your smartphone.
If you don't have a scanning app on your phone, you can use Adobe Scan mobile app for iPhone & Android
If your state requires postal mail ballot return, we recommend using a courier service at this point (if financially feasible).
If you still send with Deutsche Post, we do NOT recommend sending your ballot as registered mail ("Einschreiben"), as this may actually prevent your ballot from being delivered (ex. if your county clerk isn't there to sign, your ballot can end up being sent back to you). If you want to have a tracking feature without sending as registered mail, you will need to use a courier.
We strongly recommend looking into this discounted rate from FedEx:
FedEx Express is kindly offering Americans abroad a discount to send ballots home reliably. US voters living in 10 European countries can now take advantage of a special rate for overnight return of their absentee ballot. From now through November, FedEx International Priority service for envelopes up to 500g sent to the USA costs just €25 from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Denmark (kr.186), Poland (112 zł), Sweden (260 kr), and the United Kingdom (£23). This special is only bookable online — discounts will not be given if booking at a FedEx store or on the phone. Feel free to privately tell your friends and family, but please do not post about this on social media.
Please note that some DA Germany members have reported that FedEx delivery has taken longer than one day (sometimes upwards of four to five work days).
|Download a step-by-step guide on how to book the FedEx deal HERE.|
Please take your ballot to the post office / private courier's store to ensure it receives the correct postage.
Don't forget to write USA at the bottom of the address field.
Do NOT use the diplomatic pouch at U.S. embassies and consulates to return your ballot at this point. It is too late.
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 carefully review the instructions. Don't let human error spoil your ballot!
5.) Confirm your ballot arrival's 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. You can find these by Googling "[your state] ballot tracking". You can also look up your local election office's contact details here, and try to contact them directly. They are experiencing an influx of calls, so you will likely need to remain persistent to get through to someone.
6.) Having trouble? Need help? 😕
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays (6 pm-10 pm)
and Saturdays (8 am-4 pm)
7.) "I Voted from Germany" Stickers
As a small thank you for your civic engagement, Democrats Abroad Germany is happy to send you an "I Voted from Germany" sticker free of charge. Request yours here today: https://fs11.formsite.com/DAGermany/ivotedfromgermany/index.html. Download a digital sticker.
* Information on the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)
If you requested an absentee ballot but have not yet received it, please submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), also known as a "backup" or "emergency" ballot.
What is the FWAB, and why should I use it?
The FWAB is a ballot specifically for overseas voters to use to preserve their vote in uncertain circumstances. Mailing in your FWAB now will protect your vote in case mail is curtailed in the coming weeks.
There's no downside to submitting a FWAB. But you should also mail in your official ballot as soon as you receive it. (Federal law required all states to send ballots to overseas voters by September 19.) If both the FWAB and your official ballot reach your voting jurisdiction by the deadline, only the official ballot will be counted and the FWAB will be discarded.
How do I submit a FWAB?
If you haven't already submitted a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) — the absentee ballot request form for overseas voters — this is your first step. You can do this at www.votefromabroad.org. If you're unsure, please fill it out again. Multiple submissions are okay, and your local election office must honor the most recent submission. Please note that information from your FPCA must match your information on your FWAB.
To fill out the FWAB, go to www.fvap.gov/fwab-privacy-notice. Keep in mind that it is a ballot so be sure to read the instructions carefully!
|Watch a video on how to do a FWAB here.|