• France's news in English
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: FVAP

How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections

The Local · 23 Sep 2016, 16:37

Published: 23 Sep 2016 16:37 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Help! I just realized the US elections are right around the corner! What do I do?!

For starters, register to vote if you haven’t already! It’s a super-simple two-step process. 

First, go to FVAP.gov and request an absentee ballot with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Second…

…yeah, yeah. I’ve already sent my FPCA. But how do I actually vote? What happens now?

As I was saying, the FPCA counts as both your voter registration and a ballot request so now all you need to do now is sit tight and keep an eye on your mailbox. Your ballot should arrive in early October.

And then what do I do when my absentee ballot gets here?

Well…fill it out…

But how?

With a pen?

Dude. Seriously.

Alright sorry! The exact layout of your ballot will vary depending on what state you’re from. Most of them are pretty straightforward – just follow the instructions.

But read them carefully, as the exact requirements for properly completing your ballot – signatures, notarizing, etc. – differ from state to state.

Will do! How do I know what regulations apply in my state?

Instructions should come with the ballot, but it’s also easy to find lots of information about your state’s online voting resources at FVAP.gov.

Got it. And when exactly do I need to send in my voted absentee ballot?

Glad you asked. If you’re living abroad, the recommended mailing date is October 15, 2016.

Good to know. But what if the ballot I requested never shows up?

No worries! There’s a backup plan: the FWAB.

The what?

The FWAB…the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.

Geez – you guys and your acronyms. And how exactly does FWAB differ from the FPCA we were talking about earlier?

The FPCA both registers you to vote and requests an absentee ballot for you. But if the ballot you requested with your FPCA doesn’t arrive, you can instead print and fill-out an FWAB and submit that instead.

Ah, I get it…the FWAB is sort of like a plan B ballot? The absentee ballot of last resort?


Well I’m pretty impatient, so what happens if I send in my FWAB and the absentee ballot shows up later?

You can still fill out the absentee ballot you requested even if it turns up after you’ve lost hope and sent in the FWAB. Election officials will only count one of your ballots if they both arrive in time.

Alright. But, once I’ve sent it in, how do I know if it’s been received or not?

Good question! Luckily these days there’s a marvellous thing called the internet. You can actually check the status of your ballot at FVAP.gov.

Thank heavens for the internet.

Indeed. Anything else you'd like to know?

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Good grief! Try asking me again after the election. But for now, get out there and vote.

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by the US Federal Voting Assistance Programme (FVAP).

The Local ()

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available