How to vote in US elections if residing outside country

How to vote in US elections if residing outside country

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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Q. I am an American citizen and currently live in Jamaica. Can I vote in the November 2020 elections?

A: Yes! While the legal voting age in the US is 18, voter registration and pre-registration rules and ages are different in every state.

Start by confirming your voter registration with your state. Some states require absentee voters to register annually so you may need to re-register. Go online to the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website at FVAP.gov to connect to your state's voter portal to register to vote, request a ballot, and more.

Once you confirm your registration, follow a few simple steps to vote in the 2020 US elections:

1. Request your ballot: Most states provide the option to request ballots through their state election portals, which you can easily access via FVAP.gov. You can also choose to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).

The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (president, US Senate, and US House of Representatives), including primaries and special elections during the calendar year in which it is submitted. FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in every US state and territory. FVAP's online assistant can help you with completing the FPCA.

Whether you request your ballot through your state's portal or the FPCA, we encourage you to select the option for receiving your ballot electronically (by e-mail, Internet download, or fax) when available. This is the fastest way for you to get your ballot and ensures you have it in time to return a completed form before your state's deadline.

2. Receive and complete your ballot: States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. Most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online.

3. Return your completed, signed ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or through US Embassy Kingston's diplomatic pouch. The diplomatic pouch provides mail service from embassies and consulates to a US sorting facility. You will need to place your ballots in US postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient US postage, in order for them to be delivered to the proper local election authorities. Neither the embassy nor the agencies have US postage stamps available.

If using the diplomatic pouch, ballots can be dropped off to the American Citizens Services unit by bringing your sealed, addressed ballot with proper postage to:

• The US Embassy applicant entrance at 142 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6 between 7:15 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except US and Jamaican holidays.

• US Consular Agency Montego Bay at Whitter Village, Suite EU1, Rose Hall, St James between 9:00 am and noon, Monday to Friday, except US and Jamaican holidays.

Please note that it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by an embassy or consulate via diplomatic pouch. All overseas US citizens are advised to submit their forms and ballots accordingly.

Q. I was born in the US, but I never lived there. Can I still vote?

A: Probably. If you are a US citizen, but you have never lived in the United States, your eligibility to vote depends on where your parents or guardians last lived in the United States. Check here for state-by-state rules: www.FVAP.gov/citizen-voter/reside.

You can find more information about American Citizen Services and how to travel to the US on our website, https://jm.usembassy.gov/ . Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassyJamaica/ and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter . We also answer general questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


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