How do you vote absentee?
To vote in a U.S. election, on the day of the election you must:
- be a U.S. citizen
- be 18 years old
- be absent from your voting residence
There are three steps to voting absentee in an election:
Step 1: Register and request your online absentee ballot using Federal Post Card Application (FPCA): whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must complete an FPCA each year to participate in all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) as an overseas absentee voter, in the current calendar year.
U.S. citizens who were born abroad- and never resided in the United States- are eligible to vote absentee if they have a parent or legal guardian that last domiciled in the USA. For more information, please check at fvap.gov. If your state is not listed at fvap.gov, contact your election office to check whether you’re eligible.
Step 2: Receive your absentee ballot
Election officials are required to send absentee ballots no later than 45 days before an election for those who are registered and have requested a ballot. If you submit your FPCA within 45 days of the election, they will send your ballot as soon as possible, upon processing your form.*
All states must allow you to receive your blank absentee ballot electronically, when requested. This may include email, fax, or online download.
If you did not receive your state absentee ballot at least 30 days before the election, you can vote by using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).
Step 3: Return Your Completed, Signed State Ballot: Download the PDF FPCA forms, vote, sign & date. Return your state absentee ballot as soon as you receive it with special attention to the specific methods of return authorized in your state. Please note that most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online.
If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or through U.S. Embassy Brussels diplomatic pouch for you free of charge. You may drop the signed ballot in postage paid return envelopes bearing sufficient U.S. postage at the Embassy during walk-in hours. Please bring your official ID to enter the building, preferably your U.S. passport. Please note general diplomatic pouch delivery takes six weeks. Expatriate U.S. citizens without internet access can obtain and submit their FWAB in US Embassy Brussels, Belgium consular section during walk-in hours.
We will accept ballots through election day, but to ensure your ballot arrives on time and your vote counts, we recommend you drop off your completed ballot at least three weeks before your election date to ensure timely delivery in the United States.
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website FVAP.gov. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook (@DODFVAP), Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov).
If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact U.S. Embassy Brussels’s Voting Assistance Officer at VoteBrussels@state.gov
Remember… Be Smart – Do your Part – Vote!
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