Overseas Voter Ballot Request Deadlines - Coming Up!
This article originally appeared in the Times of Israel Blog, Sep 29, 2016.
Time is of the essence — the General Election is November 8th. Every vote is important. A simple mistake could be made that disqualifies you from absentee voting. Submitting to your State, a Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request (FPCA), does not always mean you are registered. Mail is lost, or questions go unanswered. While there still is time: verify that you are registered:
1. Go to the State Voting Requirements page; enter your state and hit Submit. Scroll down and click on "Am I Registered - State Lookup Tools". The link should take you to your state's service that will look up your voter registration status. If you are an active voter, it should indicate that. There may also be a "Where's My Ballot" service from your state (not all of them have this), but if so, it will be located there.
2. In addition, you may also want to call your Local Election Office to check that your application was accepted and your ballots will be sent. Go to the Election Official Directory: Enter your state and county (or city/town, depending) , and hit Submit. Then you should have the contact information.
Check your State's deadlines, instructions, and options. Each State sets its own deadlines for registering to vote, and its options for how absentee ballots are sent to voters. California’s Voter Registration deadline is October 24th; while, Nevada is October 8th. States can also differ in their requirements, and deadlines regarding how to complete and submit absentee ballots.
Registered absentee voters are beginning to receive their State ballots via email or regular mail. Fill out your ballot and election materials correctly. Many States have specific requirements for signing the envelope or an affidavit enclosed with your ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot to ensure it gets counted. If you have any questions, contact your Election Official. Better to be safe than sorry.
What if you are registered and your official ballot did not arrive in time? A Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is an alternative ballot for overseas and uniformed services voters whose ballots are late. All ballots, including the FWAB, must be received on or before the Election Day in order to be counted. To allow for mail delays or mistakes; vote your ballot as soon as possible.
Twenty-two states allow email of ballot return – Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington (state), and West Virginia.
Voters from the following States - California, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington qualify for a little known program called, “Vote in Honor of Veterans” that pays tribute to the sacrifices that veterans have made throughout history to protect our freedoms and our sacred right to vote. “We encourage people to honor a loved one or family member who served in the military, by filling out a postcard or making a tribute online at HonorAVet.net. We will then send the honorer and the honoree, if they are still with us, an Honor a Veteran with Your Vote lapel pin, and encourage them to wear it on Election Day.” Kevin Hull, Office of Iowa Sec of State.
As an American overseas, your absentee ballot counts the same as ballots cast at the local poll site. All ballots submitted according to State laws are counted in every election. The media often will report the projected outcome of an election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report the preliminary results or say that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the official totals for every election — and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.
If you have any questions, please visit our Voter Help Desk.