Did you know that even if you live in a foreign country, as long as you are a U.S. citizen who would be able to vote if you still lived in the United States, you can vote from wherever you are living now – and that includes the primaries. This primary ends on March 10th at midnight Pacific time, so if you want to vote and haven’t done so yet, the time is NOW.
I had been aware that I could vote in the presidential election, but mistakenly thought the primaries were off limits. Recently, I found out that is not true. Another question was how delegates are counted if voting from abroad, since we are not voting within the states. Well, expats around the world are like the 51st state – we have 21 delegates.
At the end of this month, I will be attending a conference where I will learn more about voting in the general election for president, so I will save that thought for a future post, when I have that information. For right now, I will focus on the primaries.
For a non-partisan site with information and help to register and to vote, you can click on https://www.fvap.gov/ and you will find instructions for military members, their families and U.S. citizens living outside the country. For Republicans, there is also the organization Republicans Overseas and for Democrats there is Democrats Abroad. Another site is http://www.votefromabroad.org for anyone who wants to register and vote.
According to the government website, this is required for absentee voting:
- Each year, submit a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials. They will:
- Confirm your eligibility to vote and put your name on a list to receive absentee ballots for any elections held that calendar year.
- Send you a blank absentee ballot electronically or by mail.
- Complete and return the ballot so it arrives before your state’s ballot return deadline. OR
- If you have not received your blank ballot 30 days before an election, use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to vote.
IMPORTANT: U.S. citizens abroad must submit a new FPCA each year to vote in U.S. elections. Submit your FPCA at the beginning of the calendar year, or at least 45 days before an election, to allow ample time to process your request and resolve any problems. Once approved, your name will be put on a list of voters to receive absentee ballots.
Since there are only two more days (UNTIL MARCH 10th) to submit an absentee ballot for the primary, I have been busy this week, finding American citizens in my area and helping them to register to vote, or giving them all the information they need in order to vote. So 4 of us submitted our ballots by email and two other people have been given all the information and instructions they need to submit them from home.
There are polling places in your countries of residence where Americans can cast their primary ballots in person, but the closest one to me is three hours away, and I decided I would rather stay here, do mine via the internet and encourage my fellow expats to vote, while assisting those who needed information and help.
With my laptop, I am able to download and print documents, but am unable to scan. I asked around and found a friend who has that capability with her equipment, so we had ourselves a little “Get Out the Vote” party and scanned the ballots in on her equipment.
The battle for the right to vote was hard-fought and hard-won, with African Americans and women suffering imprisonment, physical brutality and worse fighting for this basic right. Black men were granted the right to vote by the 15th Amendment ratified in 1870. Women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed, but in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a provision of this Act that required states with a history of voter discrimination to seek federal approval before changing their election laws. The ink was barely dry before new restrictions on voting were put into place by these states, and interference in the right to vote continues to this day.
This is why we must make every voice count and not be complacent. So – active in this process, make your voice heard and VOTE !!!!!