How to Exercise Your Right to Vote From Abroad

Approximately 2.9 million Americans living abroad are eligible to vote. In the 2016 presidential election, only 7% of eligible Americans abroad voted, compared to 60% of their domestic counterparts. The 2020 election is too important. Even if you are already outside of the United States, make your voice heard. VOTE! Here’s how.

Request Your Ballot

The Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) enables you to register to vote and to request your ballot. There are two websites to help you complete this application.

Vote From Abroad is a non-partisan website which allows you to complete the FPCA online and upload a picture of your signature. The digital signature enables you to email the application directly, online. Unfortunately, some states like California and New York don’t allow the digital signature, so you will need to print, sign, scan, and then email the form to the email address indicated for these states.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program is the official government site where you can complete the application form online. They do not allow you to upload a signature, hence you will need to print, sign, scan, and email the form.

Keep in mind that your voting address is usually the last place you lived in the US. If you never lived in the US, you may use the last US address of your US citizen parents. Do not enter a PO Box.

Ballot Request and Submission Deadlines

You can receive your ballot via email/online, snail mail, or fax. Choosing to receive the ballot by email ensures you receive the ballot on time. The ballot request and submission deadlines will vary by state, so check your state’s guidelines here.   

There are 20 states that require ballots to be returned by snail mail. These are Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinoi, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin – so plan accordingly.

It’s Easy!

It took me all of ten minutes to fill and email the application requesting my ballot. So please, exercise your right and VOTE!


Dr. Ashwini Bapat is a palliative care physician, Founder and CEO of EpioneMD, which provides virtual advanced care planning and serious illness coaching to individuals and telepalliative care consultation to healthcare organizations. She resides in Portugal.

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