As an American citizen, I believe voting is a citizen’s responsibility, no matter your circumstance. Even though I am currently living overseas, I still made sure to request my absentee ballot during this year’s mid-term elections.
The first step in casting your ballot overseas is to familiarize yourself with the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, which provides voting assistance for Service members, their families, and overseas citizens. From this website, you should be able to select your home state (Wisconsin’s is here). Then from there, you are able to register to vote, request a ballot, update your voting info, receive your ballot (if you are a permanent overseas resident), and check the status of your ballot.
Usually, when you click on one of these external links, you will be taken to your state’s home page (Wisconsin’s FVAP website takes you to My Vote Wisconsin). From here, you will either have to request an absentee ballot as a Temporary Overseas Voter, or a Permanent Overseas Voter. Do take note, that if you ever plan to return to the United States (and you want a say in your state’s issues), then you should register as a Temporary Overseas Voter. As a Permanent Overseas Voter, you are claiming to never return to the United States, and in that case, are only given the right to vote on Federal issues.
Though this may vary from state to state, when requesting an absentee ballot as a Temporary Overseas Voter in Wisconsin, it will arrive to your country of residence as a paper ballot, usually within a few weeks. You then must fill out and return your ballot in the designated envelope enclosed with your ballot, which may or may not require extra postage (mine did). Additionally, on the envelope is a space where you must have an additional US citizen sign and date as a witness to your ballot validation (so make sure you have another fellow American who is willing to help you out!)
Most importantly, make sure to request, fill out, and postmark your ballot on time (the day of the election at the absolute latest). Your ballot must arrive back at your Municipal Clerk’s office by the Friday following the election at the very latest in order for it to count. International mail can be shady and take a long time to arrive, so, the earlier the better. Each state has specific deadlines on their websites.
Any other questions or comments about voting while living overseas? Leave me a comment!