Answers to questions about whether and how you can vote in the US elections.
With the US presidential election coming up, many ex-pats living or spending the winter season here in La Paz have questions about whether and how they can vote. Questions we hear often include:
- How do I get a ballot?
- How do I know my ballot will get here in time?
- Where do I send my ballot?
- How can I be sure my vote was received and counted?
Not to worry, the US government has a great system set up to make it easy for expats to vote.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a service that was created to help service members and overseas citizens and their families vote securely from wherever they are currently located around the world. This service allows for absentee voting in all 50 states and US territories. The web site https://www.fvap.gov makes it easy to vote remotely using online tools and a printer/scanner. That’s right, you don’t even need to mail your ballot in order for it to count!
The voting assistance guide is located at https://www.fvap.gov/guide, and will guide you through the process of requesting an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) form, and offers answers to frequently asked questions. Here is a summary of the process:
- Go to https://www.fvap.gov and select Request Your Ballot Now.
- After accepting the terms, you will select the state where you have (or recently had) residence in the US, and select the voting classification you represent.
- You will be asked to enter your personal information next, and once you have completed this process you can download the complete FPCA package.
- Print the FPCA application forms, complete the fields requested and sign the application. Then, scan your completed application (if you don’t have a printer with a scanner, you can take it to the local OfficeMax to scan it, or ask a friend who has a scanner). Upload the scanned document to the web site above, or you can fax it sending an e-fax (online) fax service like this one.
- You should receive an email with your official federal and state ballot(s) within 30-45 days of the next election, or within 1-2 days if already inside the 30-45 day window. Print all relevant forms, fill out your ballot, and sign the affidavit. Then, scan your completed ballot, and upload it to the web site or fax it (depending on your state’s requirements).
- If you do not receive your state ballot, you can request the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballott (FWAB) form from the same website.
- You can check on the status of your ballot by going to https://www.fvap.gov/military-voter and clicking on your state. Each state will offer a link to check on the status of your voted ballot.
We have voted this way in both of the recent mid-term elections and are doing the same for the upcoming general election. Please don’t hesitate to vote just because you are not currently in the US. It’s easy to vote using an absentee ballot, and it’s important!
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