Remember that your vote counts, and that many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%. All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Be an Educated Voter. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, or search the Internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.
Frequently asked questions:
Q: I currently live overseas. Am I eligible to vote?
A: Almost all U.S. citizens 18 years or older are eligible to vote absentee in U.S. primary and general elections, even when they physically reside outside of the United States.
Some states even allow overseas citizens to vote for candidates for state and local offices, as well as for state and local referendums.
Because every state’s voting procedures are highly variable, we encourage you to review information regarding your specific state from the Federal Voting Assistance Program at FVAP.gov
Q: How do I receive my blank absentee ballot?
A: The first step in voting absentee is submitting your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials.
To complete and address the form, go to either the Federal Voting Assistance Program or the Overseas Vote Foundation website, where an on-line assistant walks you through the process. You can always return your FPCA by mail. In addition, most states allow you to send in your FPCA by fax or email. We recommend you submit this at least 90 days before the election in which you want to vote.
Your local election officials then confirm your eligibility to vote and put your name on a list to receive absentee ballots for any elections held that calendar year. Forty-five days before the November general elections, your state will either send your blank ballot to you electronically or mail it to the address you provided on your FPCA.
Q: When should I request an absentee ballot?
A: You should send in a new FPCA every January and each time you move. We recommend that you send in an FPCA at least 90 days before the election in which you want to vote.
Q: Do I have to register to vote?
A: Most states and territories require you to register to vote. Fill out an FPCA to register and request an absentee ballot at the same time.
Q: How can I verify my voter registration?
A: Most states now have websites where you can verify your registration.
If you are unsure of your voter registration status or want to confirm that local officials have received and approved your registration, check fvap.gov for a directory of state voter registration verification websites.
You can also write, email, or call your local election directly.
Q: I have not physically resided in the U.S. for years. In which state should I register/vote?
A: For voting purposes, your state of legal residence is generally the state wherein you resided immediately before leaving the United States, even if you no longer own or rent property or intend to return there in the future.
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia specifically allow U.S. citizens who have never resided in the United States to register where a parent would be eligible to vote.
Any specific questions about your voting eligibility should be directed to your local election officials.
Q: What if I do not know my voting residence address?
A: If you cannot remember the U.S. address where you last resided, we recommend asking family members and checking old records.
Your election office may also be able to help you further.
Q: How do I return my completed absentee ballot?
A: Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:
You may use Georgia’s local mail service. For this option, please be sure to include the appropriate international postage when submitting your ballot. A postage-paid envelope is available at fvap.gov.
You may also drop off your ballot request or completed ballot at Embassy Tbilisi for return to the United States. It must be addressed to your local election officials and have sufficient postage or be in a postage-paid envelope. Drop-off hours are Monday through Friday between 2PM-4PM.
Many states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots. You should consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
And if time is short or local mail is unreliable, you may use professional courier services such as TNT, DHL, or FedEx.
In all cases, adequate preparation is the key. Almost all states require voters to physically send in registration documents, receive paper ballots by return post, and mail in their completed ballots. It can take up to six weeks for mail sent via diplomatic pouch to reach its destination in the U.S please be mindful of your state’s ballot return deadline.
Q: If I live far from Tbilisi, can I mail my ballot to the U.S. Embassy?
A: Of course! If you chose this option, you would write the Embassy’s address on the outer envelope and include the proper postage. Inside, your ballot should be sealed in the postage-paid envelope provided with your ballot.
Q: I returned my Federal Post Card Application months ago, but I still haven’t received my ballot. What are my options?
A: If you haven’t received your blank ballot 30 days before an election, don’t wait any longer! You may use the Emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to vote.
Contact the Voting Assistance Officer at U.S. Embassy Tbilisi for help or visit fvap.gov to complete the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot using their online wizard.
Write in the candidates of your choice, print it, sign it, and send it to your local election officials.
If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and send it back too. Your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s deadline.
Following this procedure will not invalidate your vote or result in two votes being cast.
Q: Can I vote at U.S. Embassy Tbilisi?
A: No. Elections are run at the state level. You must communicate directly with your state to register, request a ballot, and vote.
Embassy Tbilisi can help you to fill out the Federal Post Card Application and the Emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but we are not polling places.
Q: How can I check the status of my application?
A: We encourage you to contact your election office directly to confirm that your form was processed successfully.
Neither U.S. Embassy Tbilisi nor fvap.gov has access to your registration information.
Q: Does voter registration affect my tax status?
A: You can vote for federal offices without a change to your tax status, but voting for state and local offices may result in state and local taxation. There may also be tax implications when changing your residence from one state to another. We recommend that you seek legal advice when changing your voting residence.