Vote from Japan

If you're a U.S. citizen you have the right to vote in every election - no matter where you live.

You can register to vote from abroad while residing outside the US permanently or temporarily 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 how to vote from abroad:

  1. Register to vote and request your ballot
  2. Confirm your request has been accepted
  3. Receive your ballot
  4. Fill out your ballot
  5. Return your ballot
  6. Confirm your ballot arrival
  7. Having trouble? Need help?

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. We strongly encourage you to request that your absentee ballot be sent via email.

Watch a video on how to use www.votefromabroad.org in English

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Once you've filled out the form on www.votefromabroad.org, 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 require that you print out your completed form and submit by email attachment, fax, or mail. If your state requires that you submit your FPCA by postal mail, state deadlines and submission methods can be found here.

If you have any questions, you can also always refer to Vote from Abroad's FAQ section, type your question in the website's chatbox (red circle in the bottom right-hand corner), or send an email to [email protected].

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most states provide a website where you can verify your voter status, although these sites can sometimes be outdated.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 🗳️

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 24, 2022).

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.

You don't need to wait for ballots to come out on September 24. 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.

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) Fill out your ballot 📝

It’s very important to fill out your ballot completely and vote for every race and ballot initiatives. Some elected positions do not have a party affiliation directly associated with the party, like school boards, judges, and others. To learn about candidates and their platforms, you can do the following: 

  • League of Women Voters offers a personalized ballot service at https://www.vote411.org/ballot. You can learn where candidates running for office in your community stand on the issues.
  • Google: Ballotpedia "your state" elections 2022 - Example: Ballotpedia Florida elections 2022
  • You can Google the candidate's name to find their campaign website and information about each person.

5) Return your ballot 🗳️

Once you've filled it out - return it immediately. Ballot return methods vary by state (online, email, postal mail, fax). Especially if your state only allows return by mail — 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.

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 that the ballot is returned by mail, the best option is to take your ballot to a post office as soon as possible.

  • We do not recommend booking or paying online with any courier service. You will 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!
  • Japan Post is reliable, but the US Postal system, not so much.  From Hokkaido or Okinawa to Wisconsin is 2~3 days using the EMS service at 3900 yen.  Regular airmail is 190 yen, and 8~10 days to San Francisco or New York. Japan Post English delivery estimates (click here), but don't risk it.  Get your ballot in as soon as possible.  

BALLOT RETURN THRU THE US EMBASSY - Returning your ballot via diplomatic pouch:  Your completed ballot must reach the Embassy at least 3 weeks prior to the election. Find the exact address, check for updates and find out more on the US Embassy Japan page (click here).

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 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.

7) Having trouble? Need help? 😕

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