5 Quick Tips on Voting Overseas for American Expats

by David Tompkins

Quick Guide to Voting Overseas for American Expats in 2020

As everyone knows, there is a presidential election in the USA in November 2020. It is vital for all eligible Americans to vote for the next president. If you’re an American expat, it’s important to know how to register to vote as well as send and track a ballot. This article will shed some tips on voting overseas for American Expats – no matter whom you will vote for!

You may be an American expat, digital nomad, or a global citizen living abroad. As the voting season is here, you want to do your part as an American to vote. According to the New York Times, Democratic and Republican officials say voting from abroad is easy and worth the effort.

You may think voting from overseas may not make much of a difference, but election results are not final until every absentee vote has been counted. Even those votes can make or break a candidate. However, there may be more Americans voting from abroad due to the pandemic. If you are new to voting remotely, here’s a brief guide on voting overseas for American expats.

Registering to Vote From Overseas

When it comes to voting overseas for American expats, you must register as early as you can. It will ensure you stay on your state’s voting rolls. Furthermore, request your absentee ballot at the beginning of the year, and do so especially if you change your address.

The registration form is called the Federal Post Card Application. This form is easy to fill and can be found on government-run websites like the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation, or VoteFromAbroad.org, a nonpartisan site run by Democrats Abroad. These sites will have substantial details to guide you through the process.

After You Have Voted Overseas

Now that you’ve voted, the next steps are fairly simple. Print, sign, and date the form and follow the instructions for returning your ballot. Depending on the state you’re voting for, you will have the option to request ballots and return them either by fax or email. It’s important to vote as early as you can. With COVID-19, there may be a delay in mailing your ballots. It’s always best to call your local election office to make sure they have received your request for your ballot.

Check the Rules & Procedures When Voting Overseas

When it comes to voting overseas for American expats, it’s important to know voting laws and procedures vary from state to state. You can only obtain and send your ballot at your last place of residence in the USA. Even if you’ve been living abroad for years, it’s crucial to find out how voting works in your state as the registration process for overseas voters has changed in many states. Some states require you to have proof of citizenship or photo ID and a copy of your passport in a mailing envelope together with your ballot envelope.

For example, some expats may need to fill out a hard copy of the voter registration, so ensure you have access to a printer. On the other hand, some expats can submit their registrations online, so ensure you have internet access. Another quick tip on voting overseas for American expats is to have your mail forwarding service set up before you move. It comes in handy if you’re a new expat or thinking of moving abroad.

Advice for American Voters Living Overseas

American Citizens Abroad (ACA) recommends that all overseas citizens keep several copies of their passport available. This tip will come in handy to help with passport replacement in case of loss or theft. It’s especially handy when you want to prove citizenship during voting. Another tip is to memorize the last four digits of your US Social Security number as it’s required during the registration process.

Our understanding is that you can’t. United States embassies and consulates are not official polling places, though they may provide assistance in registering to vote or obtaining a backup ballot.

Our final advice is to make sure you are registered and vote ASAP! With COVID-19, the mail may be delayed and you obviously want to make sure your vote from abroad is counted.


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