Following are frequently asked questions that apply to Uniformed Service members, their eligible dependents, as well as citizens residing outside the U.S. Additional FAQs specific to Uniformed Service members and overseas citizens will be provided in future issues of this newsletter.
Do I have to be registered to vote absentee?
Registration requirements vary from state to state. Most states and territories require registration to vote absentee. Voter registration and absentee ballot request can be done at the same time by submitting the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). If you are already registered to vote and only wish to request a ballot, you should submit your FPCA as soon as possible.
Where do I send my Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot Request?
Your Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot request form must be completed, printed, signed, dated and mailed directly to your local election official. These officials will handle the processing and distribution of your absentee ballots and may need to contact you for further information or clarification. To facilitate this process, please provide a current email address, phone and fax number on your application.
When mailing election materials to my state or territory, do I have to pay postage?
When mailed from any U.S. post office, U.S. embassy or consulate, or APO/FPO mail facility, the hardcopy voter registration/absentee ballot form is postage-paid. In order to receive free postage, the online version of the form must be mailed in an envelope printed with our postage-free envelope template. You may mail the completed form in an envelope with proper postage affixed. Ensure that your form is postmarked (see postmarking instructions below) and sent to arrive before your state's specific deadline. You must pay postage if the materials are mailed from a non-U.S. postal facility.
What is a postmark and how do I make sure I get one?
A postmark is a postal marking made on a piece of mail indicating the date and time that the item was accepted by the postal service. Postmarks are used to determine if voting materials have been mailed by state deadlines. Due to varying mail pick up times, the day you 'mail' your election mail may not be the day the postal facility postmarks it.
You may ask the mail clerk to hand stamp the election material so that a date is clearly visible. In certain situations a handwritten postmark and signature from you or a notarizing official may be sufficient.
When is the best time to apply for an absentee ballot? We recommend that you register to vote/request an absentee ballot in January of each year, or at least 45 days before Election Day.
Must I submit a separate application for each election? A citizen does not need to submit a separate application for each election since the states and territories accept the Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot Request form as a request for all Federal office elections for a period of two general elections. To ensure that you receive absentee ballots for all elections in which you are eligible to vote, we recommend that you submit a new Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot Request in January of each year and whenever you have a new mailing address. If you are requesting an absentee ballot for a specific election, note in Block 6 the election for which you are requesting the ballot, i.e., "Primary (or Special, or General) election only"
When should I receive my ballot?
Most states and territories begin mailing ballots 30-45 days before an election. If you have not received your ballot two weeks before the election, contact your local election official (contact information available on most state election sites). If you encounter problems contacting your local election official, contact us. Always complete and return your absentee ballot regardless of when you receive it, even if you have already submitted a back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (explanation below). Your local election official will ensure that only one of the ballots is counted.
What happens if I do not receive a ballot from my local election office?
If you requested an absentee ballot but have not received one close to election day, you can still vote by using the backup Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FVVAB). In order to be eligible to use this back-up ballot, you must:
—Be absent from your voting residence;
—Have applied for a regular ballot early enough so the request is received by the appropriate local election official not later than the State deadline; or the date that is 30 days before the general election; AND
—Have not received the requested regular absentee ballot from the state.
Hardcopies of the FWAB are available through Voting Assistance Officers at military installations or at U.S. embassies/ consulates. An online version is also available, which must be completed, printed, signed, dated, and mailed to your local election official. Check out your state specific instructions, witness/notary requirements, deadlines, and mailing addresses.