Every. Vote. Matters. – How to vote from abroad

In the past 24 hours, I inadvertently sent myself down a 9/11 rabbit hole, beginning with this extremely well done Politico feature about the reporters, advisors and pilots with President Bush on September 11 and culminating with 5 hours of History Channel and MSNBC anniversary specials.

Probably not a great idea to inundate myself with images of horrific plane crashes 7 days before boarding a flight…

But it’s really motivated me. It’s reminded me that every single person’s contribution to their country matters. Small actions have the potential to create waves. And less than 60 days before a major presidential election is the perfect time to be reminded of this responsibility.

If you are voting from abroad, you must request an absentee ballot in advance. Luckily, it’s super simple. I requested mine in about 20 minutes, and by the next day was notified by my local election board that my request had been processed and my ballot will be emailed to me at the end of the month!

  1. Go to https://www.fvap.gov/ and select your state to see registration deadlines. In my state – Virginia – Ballot requests must be received by November 1, 2016 in order to vote in the General Election.
  2. Either use the FVAP online client, or download the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to request an absentee ballot. (Here’s an overview of the process)
  3. I was unsure what address to send my ballot to, as I don’t yet have a permanent address in France. I considered using one of my schools’ addresses, but felt a little uneasy about that, so I put my parents’ address and planned that they would forward the ballot to me when it arrives.
  4. The application also had a section to mark your ballot delivery preference : mail, email, or fax. I put email as my top preference, so maybe I could avoid the mail forwarding all together.
  5. In Virginia, I was able to submit FPCA form via email, so I could send it immediately without even needing to print! (I did have to sign it electronically, though)
  6. Within 24 hours, I received an email from my local election board notifying me that my application had been processed and that I will receive my ballot by email when absentee ballots become available at the end of September.
  7. I will need to print my ballot, fill it out, and mail it back to the U.S. before November 8, 2016.

IT WAS REALLY THAT SIMPLE! Please be aware that states have different regulations concerning online ballots, so the earlier you register the better!

This election cycle has been extremely fatiguing, disheartening, terrifying, vitriolic. I’m already dreading the many questions and comments the French will SURELY have about our political system and climate…. but we all need to do our part, because that is what democracy is all about!!! 🇺🇸  ❂


4 thoughts on “Every. Vote. Matters. – How to vote from abroad

  1. I love how your reflection on this tragic day moves you to action. You definitely are modeling how “small actions have the potential to create waves.” Great step-by-step directions for an important right we have by living in a democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

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