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Voting from Abroad and No Absentee Ballot Arrived? Get the FWAB

Here's the scenario: You are living abroad in a part of the world where postal delivery is sketchy, and you want to vote.

You already sent in your overseas ballot request months ago. You remember that you printed it, signed, scanned and sent it by email to your election office. You followed up with the original paper document in the post. Eventually, they will receive it.

You are sure you requested to receive the blank ballot online and expected to see it in your email box. That would then get to you by 45 days prior to the election, with enough time to print and post it back. But you don't see it. You check your spam and junk folders, you search high and low. It's not there.

The state's ballot tracking system is inaccessible because they are blocking overseas web traffic from your location. You look up and try to call and email and get through to your election office - but it is ten days to Election Day and it seems every other voter has the same idea. No way to be sure they received your message or if they will re-issue and resend the ballot.

Yes, it can still happen, despite all of your best intentions. This is just one scenario, but there are many variations on this theme.

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to the Rescue!

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is designed as a fallback "emergency" ballot for just this type of scenario.

The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is an alternative, downloadable ballot which, depending on your voter status, you can use to vote in federal, state and local elections, including ballot measures. It is accepted by all states and territories.

You can generate the FWAB form on our website. Note that you will need to print the file and fill in the ballot page with your selected candidates. You can look up your candidates through our Sample Ballot Lookup tool.

All states and territories allow all voters to vote in federal level races.

  • Some states offer full ballots to all voters, others give only a federal ballot to voters living abroad indefinitely.
  • For voters who are overseas only temporarily, or who are in the military, you can vote for the full slate of federal, state and local races and ballot measures.
  • If you are unsure, note that regardless of state or voter type, you can vote in federal level races.

The FWAB is used by registered overseas and active duty uniformed services voters who have not received their official absentee ballot in a timely manner.

The FWAB should be returned to your local election office.

The mailing address will automatically print on the instructions that come with the FWAB printout from the US Vote site, so make sure to read them!

You can also look up your local election office’s mailing address by visiting US Vote's Election Official Directory. Once there, input your state and region, and then click on the “Address Information” tab.

What if the wished-for ballot arrives after you've sent in the FWAB?

If the official ballot from your local election office arrives after you have already sent in a completed Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), you should complete the official ballot and send it in to replace the FWAB.

If it arrives back to your local election office in time, the official ballot will then be the ballot that is counted. This is a standard procedure and does not equal voting twice.