US citizens living abroad, it’s time to return your ballots (or at least make plans)

The Federal Voting Assistance Program — FVAP — has its roots in the offices to help overseas US military personnel vote. It has evolved to the point that it will help any US citizen who is abroad to exercise voting rights, but its funding and prominence have waned a bit due to Washington gridlock. Contact them here.

Have a US passport? Return your ballot today

Sound advice, and as time ticks by then other options come into play, but with rules that vary state by state.

Basic rule of thumb is that Americans living overseas and otherwise eligible to vote have a right to cast absentee ballots for at least the federal offices, generally where they last lived in the USA, or if they never did where a US citizen parent did. That part is guaranteed by federal law and for those who registered in time the ballots were supposed to have been mailed out, also per federal law. A lot of states will let overseas voters cast ballots for state officers, local officer and ballot proposals.

Deadlines vary from state to state. As do rules about voting for down-ticket non-federal offices, and whether voting for state and local offices makes you a state resident for tax purposes. (By federal law, voting for federal offices can’t be used by states to make you a resident for tax purposes.)

Getting REALLY late with no ballot having arrived, there are the federal write-in ballot forms. And then, some states say the ballot must arrive by Election Day, while others say must be postmarked on or before Election Day, and there are variations on the arrival theme.

Does it sound horribly complex? It really isn’t, although there are sometimes local and state officials who will write “rules” as they go to play partisan games. Every election year a bunch of these have to be challenged in courts.

It’s not horribly complex because Vote From Abroad exists and is online to help you through the particular mazes of the place where you can vote absentee. For questions, assistance or the most up-to-date information, see

“The Lion City” is Singapore, from whence US citizens are now voting.

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