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How Americans Can Vote Overseas

Yes, you can vote in the US Elections if you live in Singapore! In fact, you should vote. The 2022 elections in both Arizona and Georgia actually came down to the absentee ballots so your one vote may be the vote that matters. Sadly, out of the 2.8 million overseas citizens eligible to vote, only 3.4% voted in 2022 according to a Federal study whereas in the US, about two-thirds of eligible voters vote.




But how do you get started? The one thing you need to know is this link: FVAP.GOV. It's really is the key to everything. There is also VoteFromAbroad.org. No matter in which state you vote, you can register via these two websites and all of your questions can be answered here.


But don't delay. You need to do everything ASAP. Being overseas, things take a lot longer than they do back in the States and each state has different requirements.


You actually need to register every year as in some states, the registration expires. A good rule of thumb is to do this every January. But by the latest, submit by mid-September so you an vote in the federal election in November.


Request a Ballot

If you request your ballot through FVAP.gov, your vote is protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).


The first thing you need to when you visit FVAP.gov is to register and request your absentee ballot with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You can fill out the form online or print it out and fill it out by hand.


But here is the key: the form must have a wet signature so even if you fill it out online, you absolutely must print the form out, sign it and then upload it to submit. Your form will be forwarded to your state and you should receive a ballot within 45 days.





Which Box to Check?

There are boxes at the start of the form.

  • Member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty

  • Spouse or dependent of a member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty

  • US citizen living outside the country, and I intend to return

  • US citizen living outside the country, and my intent to return is uncertain

  • US citizen living outside the country, and I have never lived in the US

So what's the difference between "I intend to return" and "My intent to return is uncertain?" Well, checking you intend to return could actually affect the taxes you pay. So be sure to ask your tax accountant which box you should tick.


There are three federal positions: President, Senate, House of Representatives. Your ballot for these three will be sent either way.


Do I Have to Declare a Party?

No, you don't have to declare a political party, but if you don't, you won't be able to vote in the primaries where a party must be declared.


What Happens If My Ballot Doesn't Arrive?

if you haven't received your ballot within 45 days, go back to FVAP.GOV and vote using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). If your other ballot arrives, you should also fill it out. Your state will destroy the older ballot when the new one arrives. Heck, you can even vote now, change your mind and send in a new ballot later. The newest ballot will be the one counted on Election Day and will not be counted twice.


You Must Confirm

You need to check with your local election officials in your home state to confirm they have received both the ballot request and the actual ballot. This is on you. Local election officials are generally really helpful if you email them or call them. Some states also have online portals where you can check. Generally, the states receive the info, but now and then something goes astray. That's why you want to register early - in case they need to fix something.


Residency

So where are you supposed to vote? That's easy. You vote in the last state where you lived in the US. So even if you own property in five different states, you vote in the last place you lived and you only vote once. What about kids? Well, if they were born in the US and lived there even just one day, that's where they should register. But if they have never lived in the US, they should register in the state where their parents last lived.


Each State is Different

It's really key to check your state's requirements on FVAP.GOV as each state has different deadlines and ways of voting. Some accept email ballots. Some need hard copies mailed. Some want faxes (for this, you can use an e-fax service). And the deadlines are quite varied so be sure to check. Also, states may require certain IDs like state driver's licenses or a passport. When you fill out the form on FVAP.gov, the information required by your state is automatically populated.


How to Mail

There are different ways to sent your ballot. First, you can drop off your ballot at the US Embassy here in Singapore, but you should know that the pouch takes 3-5 weeks to arrive in Dulles, Virginia and then the ballot must get to your state. So this only works if you are voting early. You can also mail your ballot at the Singapore post office, but you'll need to pay for postage to your state. If you are running behind and voting close to the election, then a private courier is the way to go.


Your return address is really key. You must put your Singapore address as the return address. If you put a US address on the envelope, you won't be seen as an overseas voter and your vote will be tossed. This also means that your voting address (US based) and residential address (Singapore based) should be different. It's also better to be mailed from overseas than to be dropped off by a relative in the States.


Voter Registration Opportunities

There are several voter registration events offered in Singapore over the next few months. The American Association will collate those and share as they are announced. The Embassy will definitely be at the Fourth of July on event on June 29 to help register voters.



More FAQs

This article is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have more questions, FVAP.org has a great FAQ section with all the answers.


The Takeaway

The most important thing you should takeaway from this article is that you need to register to vote as soon as possible and send in your ballot soon.



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