US legislative midterm elections will take place November 6th – with every one of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats up for election. Yes! you can vote from abroad.
It is estimated that there are 9 million Americans who live overseas. However, Americans abroad have not turned out in force to vote in the previous midterm elections. In the 2014 midterms, only an estimated 4% of eligible US citizens abroad exercised their right to vote.
Deadlines vary from state to state, but most citizens abroad have at least until Oct 7th to register. Some states allow registration right up to election day. The process has been made easy via online websites such as VoteFromAbroad.org. By following the prompts, Americans can fill out the registration form and request their absentee ballot.
Boards of Elections are required by law to send out ballots no later than September 22nd. If you have NOT received your ballot by October 8th, voting experts recommend you contact your local election official to clarify the situation.
There is an emergency ballot called the FWAB—Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot—that is available to those overseas voters who have registered to vote but whose absentee ballot has failed to arrive.
Even though the election is not until Tuesday, November 6th, it’s wise for voters to return their voted ballot immediately. The biggest reason absentee ballots are not counted is they arrive after the deadline.
“The first election that happened after I moved abroad was Bill Clinton’s in 1992”, says Meredith Wheeler, a long-term American resident of the Tarn. “I tried to get a ballot—but I’d left it too late. I felt foolish and disappointed.”
“The whole system has evolved hugely since then, and it’s so much easier now,” she says. Meredith now volunteers to help other Americans vote from abroad: “I consider it a civic duty to vote—and I’m very concerned about the direction of the current Administration in D.C. I’m willing to dress as Lady Liberty if that’s what it takes to get my fellow Americans abroad to pay attention,” she said.
VoteFromAbroad.org has a team of experts available to assist any U.S. citizen with a problem getting registered, receiving or returning a ballot. You can contact them at email@example.com. Election results are not final until all absentee votes have been counted.
Absentee ballots have been decisive in several key races in recent years.
By showing their collective force by voting from abroad, Americans outside the USA encourage members of Congress to focus on issues that affect their lives abroad, such as double taxation.
The Chair of Democrats Abroad France, Joseph Smallhoover said: “It’s a huge privilege that we can vote in these elections that the whole world is watching.”
Kym Kettler-Paddock, communications director for Republicans Overseas said: “When Americans overseas do not vote, our issues do not get taken up by legislators.”
There are events planned around France in September through to mid-October by VoteFromAbroad.org, for instance:
● Paris: every Saturday until Oct 13th, from Noon to 6PM at Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005
Yes! you can vote from abroad!