Message for U.S. Citizens: Absentee Voting Reminder for the November 3 Presidential Election

The U.S. Presidential Election will be held Tuesday, November 3, 2020.  In some states deadlines to register and/or request ballots are as early as October 5th.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, we recommend that you complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) each year to ensure you are able to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

If you have already completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)in 2020 and requested electronic delivery of your ballot, you will be receiving your blank ballot or instructions for how to access your ballot soon.  If you are not sure about the status of your absentee ballot request you should contact your local election officials in the United States or check the status of your registration via your state’s voter registration verification website.

State voting offices will start distributing absentee ballots September 19 to voters who request them.

If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late. The process is easy ­– just follow these steps:

1.     Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, we recommend that you complete an FPCA to receive your ballot this fall.  It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA.  Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.

The online voting assistant available at FVAP.gov is an easy way to complete the FPCA.  It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible.  No matter which state you vote in, you should ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery.  The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print, sign and, if permitted, e-mail back to your election officials.  The FVAP website provides comprehensive information which states allow for return of FPCAs and ballots via mail, email, or fax. 

2.     Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

If your FPCA must be submitted by mail, you may drop it off at Embassy Beirut’s American Citizens Services section weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. during election season.  Please place it in either a postage-paid envelope or envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials. You can download the postage paid envelope from the FVAP.gov website.  There will be a collection box located just inside the main entrance gate; security staff will direct you to it.  Please bring your U.S. passport for identification.  Please also remember to wear a mask to protect your health and that of others.  All visitors to the Embassy are subject to security screening and you will not be permitted to bring electronic devices, including cell phones, inside the facility.

If it’s more convenient for you, you can have a friend or family member drop off your FPCA at the Embassy on your behalf, or you can send your FPCA or ballot directly to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.

3.     Receive Your Ballot

After submitting your FPCA, most states allow you to confirm online your registration and ballot delivery selection.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election (September 19) for federal office(President, U.S. Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives) to any overseas U.S. citizen who has completed an FPCA.

4.     Return Your Ballot

If your completed ballot must be returned by mail, drop it off in person at Embassy Beirut’s American Citizens Services section weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. during election season.   Because it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination in the U.S. via diplomatic pouch mail, we recommend that you deliver your ballot to us by September 30 to account for transit times between the Embassy and local voting districts. 

We will accept ballots at the Embassy through November 3.  All ballots received by the Embassy receive a postmark the day they are shipped.  This serves as the official mailing date for local elections officials.  To ensure on-time receipt of late submissions, you may wish to consider using a courier service.

 

If there isn’t enough time to return your ballot before November 3 use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  This is a backup ballot you can use if you don’t receive your ballot in a timely manner. If your official absentee ballot arrives after sending in the FWAB, fill out and send in the official ballot too. Only one will be counted.

After you send in your ballot, you can check if it was received by your election office.

Your Vote Counts

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 (differs by state).

Be an educated voter.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.   You can also read national and hometown newspapers online and search the Internet to locate articles and information.

If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact Embassy Beirut’s Voting Assistance Officer at VoteBEIRUT@state.gov.

HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING

Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues.  Consider posting #ProudOverseasVoter to your social media account.