Overseas Voting for U.S. Citizens

Absentee Voting Week is September 27- October 4.

Be an Active Voter by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections and participating in Absentee Voting Week!

In some states voter  registration  and ballot request deadlines for the November 2020 are as early as October 5thWhether 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 have not already received it.  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.

You can drop off your ballot at the Embassy in Kigali to be returned to the United States on Friday mornings from 10 am to noon.  Normal transit time from Kigali to the United States is between 2-3 weeks.  If you are not able to drop off our ballot during the designated time, please email ConsularKigali@state.gov to arrange a different time.

HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING

Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting.

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, we encourage you to 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 and sign.

  1. Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

You may drop off your FPCA or ballot at the Embassy in Kigali to be returned to the United States on Fridays between 10 am and noon.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Return Your Ballot

We recommend that if you plan to return your paper ballot to your election officials via the U.S. embassy/consulate, please return your ballot to them by October 2 to account for transit times between overseas posts and local voting districts.  If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you, 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  (Insert post-specific instructions for how voters can submit forms and ballots to the consular section to be returned to the United States via unclassified pouch.)

If there isn’t enough time to receive and send back your ballot before the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). It 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.

Due to the global pandemic, it is strongly recommended that you check with your nearest embassy or consulate to determine whether they are able to collect ballots for return to the U.S. or are recommending use of a private commercial courier service.

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.

To receive information by email about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov).  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebookand Twitter.

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