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Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today

The 2020 US election is fast approaching. If you’re a US citizen abroad, and with the added concerns around Covid-19, this is certainly not the year to delay voting.

Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today
Ballot/FWAB State transmission methods (see full details from FVAP below)

Wherever you are, help is at hand. The Local has teamed up with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), which supports US citizens living abroad to vote absentee.

Hopefully, you’ve already requested your absentee ballot – that's the crucial first step, so do it right now if you haven't already. You still have time – and every state allows you to receive your ballot by email.

Once your ballot arrives, don’t hang on to it! Here are four reasons to return your ballot the moment it arrives in your hands – or your email inbox.

Quick! Find out how to vote absentee as a US citizen abroad while you still have time

1. To make sure your voice is heard

Are you one of the three million Americans abroad who is eligible to vote? Want to be certain your voice will be heard? Then, return your ballot immediately! Turnout among eligible overseas voters was only 6.9 percent in the 2016 US election – and even lower for the 2018 mid-terms.

Maybe you've got lost in the voting process? Don't worry. If you’ve requested a ballot but haven’t received it, ask your election office about its status. Hoping to save yourself some time by voting by email? See the map below or click here to check your options for returning your ballot (or your FWAB – more on that below) in your state – by email, fax or mail.

2. For peace of mind amid the pandemic …

Need or plan to return your ballot by mail? You have even more reason to act immediately.  You can contact your local post office about possible delivery delays due to Covid-19 (more information from FVAP here).

So, what if your state only allows mail-in ballots and you’re worried about delays? FVAP suggests seeing if you can send your ballot by diplomatic pouch from a nearby Embassy or consulate

You may also want to check the latest list of countries to which the United States Postal Service (USPS) has suspended mail due to the pandemic.

The final recommended vote-by-date from abroad is October 13. But why leave it so long? If you want to feel sure your vote will count, return your ballot now! 

Make your vote count: see FVAP's guidance on voting absentee from abroad

3. To get your “I Voted From Abroad” sticker! 

Voting absentee doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting one of those “I Voted” stickers. In fact, as an American abroad who played your part in the democratic process, you can get a special version reading: “I Voted From Abroad”.

You can display it on social media to let your friends and family know you voted. Perhaps your sticker will even motivate others to vote too.

4. Because you have a ready-made back-up plan

Are you running out of time? You can’t always count on everything working out as you expect. But when it comes to voting as an American abroad, you get a ready-made back-up ballot – so even if your requested ballot doesn’t arrive, you can still vote.

It’s called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Use this if your regular ballot doesn’t reach you in good time. A few states may allow you to vote via FWAB even if you haven’t already applied for a regular ballot.

Running out of time to return your ballot? Find out more about voting with the FWAB

 

TRAVEL

US warns against travel to France due to ‘very high’ Covid numbers

The United States on Wednesday increased its travel warning to its peak level for France due to its ‘very high’ Covid figures.

US warns against travel to France due to 'very high' Covid numbers
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

“Do not travel to France due to Covid-19,” wrote the US Department of State on its website.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for France due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.”

In practice this will not have a big effect at present, since France allows only essential travel from the USA and arrival numbers are very low.

However French president Emmanuel Macron has said that he hopes to open up travel to vaccinated Americans by the summer.

The State Department’s travel warning is advisory, but travel to a Level 4 destination can invalidate travel insurance. 

Previously, the State Department listed 34 of about 200 countries worldwide with the “Do Not Travel” warning, and has since increased the number to 150 countries based on the recommendations of the CDC.

Other European countries placed on the Level 4 list include Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

The US on Tuesday also extended its travel ban on non-US citizens by 30 days. The restrictions have already been in place for 13 months.

For full details on the rules on travel between France and the USA, click HERE.

READ ALSO When will Americans be able to travel to France again?

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