November 14, 2011
With the Presidential primaries quickly approaching, the Embassy would like to highlight our guidance for American citizen residents in our consular district. Voting rules differ from state to state and even from county to county. For state-specific information, please refer to the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website.
In general, you are required to send a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials every year you intend to vote– even if you’ve previously voted overseas – as well as every time you change your name, physical address, or email address. Use the FPCA to request an absentee ballot, and to register to vote, if you’re not currently registered.
The easiest way to fill out this form is to use the online tool available at www.fvap.gov. This website tool guides you through the process based on your state’s specific voting rules. Make it your new New Year’s Resolution to complete the FPCA every January 1st!
The fastest way to receive your absentee ballot is to request an electronic ballot. Depending on your home state’s specific rules, delivery may be completed online, by fax, or by email. If you are using the 2005 version of the FPCA, you may request an electronic ballot delivery in section 4 of the document, but don’t forget to include your email address or fax number. If you are using the updated 2011 version of the FPCA, you rank your ballot delivery preference in section 6. Otherwise, your ballot will be mailed to you.
Most states now allow you to send the FPCA electronically to your local election officials, but some still require you to print and mail in a hard copy. The online tool located at www.fvap.gov will tell you which method(s) your state permits.
All states now offer a means to verify voter registration. This is often done through an online verification website or by calling your local election office. This service allows you to confirm that you are properly registered and that you are on the list to receive an absentee ballot. A link to each state’s online verification website is available at www.fvap.gov.
States send out absentee ballots at least 30 days before primary elections, and 45 days before the November general election. Returning your completed ballot as quickly as possible will ensure it reaches your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline. After you send in your completed ballot, you can confirm receipt by your local elections officials online by visiting the website of your state’s Secretary of State.
Thirty days prior to Election Day, if you haven’t received your ballot, fill out and mail in an emergency write-in ballot -- the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is available at: www.fvap.gov.
Florida, New Hampshire, & South Carolina Early Primaries:
Overseas voters should submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) NOW to ensure they have the opportunity to vote in the upcoming early Presidential Primary Elections in:
* New Hampshire: TBD*
* South Carolina: January 21, 2012
* Florida: January 31, 2012
* Dates for other states are listed on this table.
Many states permit residents to vote only in the year their ballot request (FPCA) is received, but due to early primary dates, the states above have made an exception. New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida allow you to submit your FPCA now so that you receive your State ballot and return it in time to be counted for these primaries.
*New Hampshire voters ONLY: At this time, New Hampshire has not determined its Presidential Primary date. An FPCA received by New Hampshire Town or City Clerks on or after January of 2011 is valid through the 2012 Presidential Primary. HOWEVER! To ensure you are eligible to vote in other 2012 elections, including the General Presidential election, you must submit another FPCA in January of 2012!
Should you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon at +351 21 770 2122 from 8:00am-5:00pm Monday through Friday, by email at email@example.com, or on our AmCits in Portugal facebook page.
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