Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who are residing outside of the United States during an election period are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in any election for federal office.
You cannot vote or register to vote at the Embassy or Consulates. However, we do supply the form necessary to request an absentee ballot from your last state of residence. Click on www.fvap.gov for information on how to download, fill in and send the form to the appropriate address in your state.
We strongly encourage you to register to vote and/or request absentee ballots well in advance of elections to ensure that you will receive all ballots for which you are eligible. Should questions or problems occur, you would still be able to address them in time to vote.
Questions on Absentee Voting?
For quick answers regarding absentee voting, consult the Voting FAQ!
For primary and general election dates, consult the FVAP Election Calendar !
The issue of voting residence is complex. Even in states where laws clearly define criteria for determining a person’s voting residence, the final determination is generally up to each local election official. The UOCAVA allows citizens outside the United States (not affiliated with the Uniformed Services) to vote in the state or territory where they last resided immediately prior to departing the United States, even if many years have elapsed, and the voter maintains no residence in the state or territory, and the intent to return to that state or territory may not be certain.
For members of the Uniformed Services and their family members, in most states the legal voting residence is defined as where they have, or have had, physical presence at the location and, the intent to remain or return. If a citizen is uncertain about his or her current legal voting residence, the citizen should examine his or her connections or ties to the state or territory in question and consult with legal counsel.
What is my legal residence?
For more detailed residency guidelines, first click on www.fvap.gov and then choose the link for the state you think you might register in. Look for “Voting Guidelines” in the Resources section on the right side of the individual state’s page.
What about Taxes?
Exercising your right to vote in elections for Federal offices only does not affect the determination of residence or domicile for purposes of any tax imposed under Federal, state or local law. Voting in an election for Federal office only may not be used as the sole basis to determine residency for the purposes of imposing state and local taxes.
If you claim a particular state as your residence and have other ties with that state in addition to voting then you may be liable for state and local taxation, depending upon that particular state law. Consult your legal counsel for specific questions.
You can learn more about U.S. Federal Tax questions here.
The Absentee Voting Process
- You complete and mail a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).
- For State-by-State absentee voting information, including the necessary mailing address.
- A local election official in your state of residence approves your request to register/vote, or requests additional information.
- Once approved, a local election official in your state of residence mails you an absentee ballot.
- You complete the ballot and mail it back to your state of residence. You can send the FPCA to the U.S. for free through the Embassy if the envelope indicates that postage has been pre-paid. Mailing time to the U.S. is about 10 – 15 business days, subject to factors in the postal system beyond our control.
Notarizing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)
If your state requires that you take an oath to the contents of the FPCA, please visit the American Citizen Services section at the Embassy along with your passport on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays from 0800 – 1100. All notarization services for voting materials are performed free of charge. Information about which States require notaries can be found at www.fvap.gov.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)
Overseas voters may be eligible to use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to vote for federal offices (President/Vice President, Senator, and Representative).
The FWAB may be used only for general elections and is a backup for voters who expect to be able to use the regular absentee ballot from their state or territory but who did not receive that ballot in time to vote and return it.
The FWAB must be received by the local election official no later than the deadline for receipt of regular absentee ballots under state law. The FWAB is to be used to assist those voters who would be disenfranchised through no fault of their own, and is not designed as a replacement for the regular state ballot. It is valid only when the state ballot has been requested.
An FWAB may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy. Walk-in hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 0800 – 1100. You can also obtain an online version of the FWAB on website for the Federal Voting Assistance Program at www.fvap.gov.
For questions or additional information, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov or contact the Embassy by e-mail at BeirutACS@state.gov. You can also contact the Embassy via phone Monday through Friday from 1400 – 1600 at 04-542600/543600 and ask for the American Citizen Services Unit.
New U.S. Law Makes Voting Easier for Americans Abroad
This coming November, U.S. voters will elect 39 U.S. Senators and the entire House of Representatives. For overseas voters, the process will be much easier, thanks in large part to a new law – the Military and OverseasVoters Empowerment (MOVE) Act – that the U.S. Congress enacted late last year.
To vote absentee, U.S. citizens living outside the United States must be registered to vote, and must request an absentee ballot. You can accomplish both tasks by completing a Federally-issued combination voter registration application and absentee ballot request form known as the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA. This form, along with key State-by-State instructions, is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov, or from the voting officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
The new law gives U.S. citizens overseas the ability to request and receive absentee ballots electronically. All voters who want to take advantage of this new option should send in a new FPCA with your email and/or complete fax number clearly written out. U.S. citizens who have changed their names, addresses, or email addresses, or who are infrequent voters, should also submit a new FPCA.
Seventeen year-olds who will be 18 on Election Day (November 2, 2010) can also register now. Some States allow U.S. citizens who have never resided in the United States to vote in their parents’ State of voting residence. Check the www.FVAP.gov website for your State’s procedures.
Be sure to follow your State’s instructions carefully when completing the form and sending it to local election officials in the United States. The FVAP website and the Overseas Vote Foundation website, have wizards that help you complete and address your FPCA. If you are unsure where you lived in the United States, or where to send your application, the Embassy’s voting officer can help you. Write to VoteBeirut@state.gov for assistance.
The new law requires States to send out ballots a minimum of 45 days in advance of Election Day. If you fail to receive your absentee ballot within a reasonable time period, notify your local election officials by phone or email, and ask for a new ballot electronically.
Every voter should be aware that you can use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as a back-up emergency ballot. Like the FPCA, the FWAB and instructions for its use are available on the www.FVAP.gov website or from the U.S. Consulate.
Vote your ballot and return it promptly to ensure it reaches your local election officials before your State’s ballot receipt deadline. If you use the FWAB, and later receive your official ballot, vote and return it immediately. Under the new law, States must put in place a mechanism that allows voters to confirm that the voted ballot has been received by the State. Again, check www.fvap.gov for a link to your State’s election information.
Take this opportunity to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It’s easy to do – just go on line to http://travel.state.gov. Registered U.S. citizens receive important reminders from the Embassy on safety and security, voting, and other matters of importance to the U.S. citizen community in Lebanon.
Overseas Voter Registration Frequently Asked Questions
Can I vote absentee?
You can vote absentee in any election for Federal office if you are a U.S. citizen 18 years or older who is residing outside the United States. While requirements vary from state to state, most states require that you be registered before you can vote absentee. Voter registration and absentee ballot requests can be done at the same time by submitting the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).
Where do I send my Voter Registration/Absentee BallotRequest?
The request form can be found at www.FVAP.gov and must be completed and mailed directly to your local election official. The contact information for your local election office can also be found at www.FVAP.gov. Some states allow your request to be faxed or emailed to the local election office. Please check the FVAP website for your state’s rules.
If I do not maintain a legal residence in the U.S., what is my “legal state of residence”?
Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the state or territory where you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the United States. This applies to overseas citizens even though you may not have property or other ties in your last state of residence and your intent to return to that state may be uncertain.
When completing block five of the FPCA be sure to enter the entire mailing address of your last residence. That address determines your proper voting jurisdiction.
Some states allow children of U.S. citizens residing overseas who are U.S. citizens but who have never resided in the U.S. to claim one of their parent’s legal states of residence as their own. Check out the list of states allowing this at www.fvap.gov/reference/nvr-res.html.
Can I register or vote in-person at the embassy or consulate?
U.S. embassy and consular officials can assist U.S. citizens in completing the Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot Request form. You may mail election materials from U.S. embassies and consulates. Remember to make sure that all election material is postmarked. Elections materials mailed from U.S. embassies and consulates take 3-4 business days to enter the U.S. Postal Service system and receive a stamp.
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. You must pay postage if the materials are mailed from a non-U.S. postal facility.
Must I submit a separate application for each election?
You do not need to submit a separate application for each election. To ensure that you receive absentee ballots for all elections in which you are eligible to vote, FVAP recommends submitting a new FPCA in January of each year or whenever you have a new mailing address.
What happens if I do not receive a ballot from my local election office?
States and territories are required to mail ballots at least 45 days before an election. You may contact your local election office to inquire about the status of your registration and absentee ballot request. The contact information for your local election office can be found at www.FVAP.gov.
If you requested an absentee ballot but have not received one four weeks before Election Day, you can still vote by using the back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).
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.
The back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) can be found at www.FVAP.gov. Hardcopies are available through Voting Assistance Officers at U.S. embassies and consulates. You may visit the American Citizen Services section at the American Embassy in Beirut to pick up and mail voter registration forms Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 11 AM without an appointment. Please note that you would not be able to obtain other consular services at the time if you have not scheduled an appointment to do so.
Additional information about absentee voting, voter registration and the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot can also be found at www.FVAP.gov.