Voting Information (Absentee Ballots)
Electronic voting is now available in the following 25 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
Please consult the Electronic Voting Systems Fact Sheet (PDF 46 KB) for more information.
State Department Recommendations
The Department of State recommends that all U.S. voters residing abroad request absentee ballots from their local election officials at the start of each calendar year, and whenever there is a change of address, change of e-mail address, or change of name, by completing and sending in a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). To locate information on your specific state’s requirements, and to obtain an on-line version of the FPCA, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. Voters may also pick up a hard copy of the FPCA from any U.S. embassy or consulate. FPCAs may be mailed to your local voting officials in the United States via international mail or from any U.S. embassy or consulate. Many states allow U.S. citizens overseas to submit the FPCA by e-mail or fax.
The Department of State strongly encourages all U.S. overseas voters to provide email addresses or fax numbers on their FPCAs to enable local election officials to transmit election materials in the fastest manner available, which should then allow sufficient time for the return of voted ballots. For information regarding your specific state, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.
Basic Absentee Voting Process
We strongly encourage you to register to vote and/or request absentee ballots as early in an election year as possible 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 in the general elections.
The following is the basic absentee voting process:
- You complete an application form (see below) and send it to local election officials in the U.S.
- The local official approves your request, or contacts you for further information.
- The local official sends you an absentee ballot.
- You vote the ballot and send it back in time to meet your state's deadline.
The official U.S. Government website for overseas absentee voting assistance is the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. It has a wealth of information about absentee voting, including the downloadable absentee ballot application, state-specific instructions for completing the form, links to state and local officials, and a downloadable emergency ballot.
To register to vote and to request an absentee ballot, download the Federal Post Card Application (PDF 356KB). You can also obtain this form from overseas American citizens groups or from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba. Fill it out and send it in, following the guidelines for your state. Click here for a postage-paid envelope template (PDF 95KB), valid if you are using the U.S. postal system.
Each state has different voting procedures and deadlines to register and vote. Click here for information about your state's procedures.
As of January 2011, the new law allows use of the FWAB for primary, special, and runoff elections for federal offices. Voters who request an absentee ballot in advance of their state’s ballot request deadline, but who fail to receive an official ballot from local election officials in time to vote, should complete the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot by writing in the names of the candidates and the offices for which they are running, and send it back in time to meet your state's ballot receipt deadline (SF-186, Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or FWAB).
Overseas Citizen Groups
Overseas citizens groups help people to vote. We encourage you to contact Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad or other American citizens groups or organizations for assistance in registering to vote and requesting absentee ballots.
Be an educated voter. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is widely available and easy to obtain via the Internet. Use the links at the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, or choose any one of several search engines to locate articles and information.
Consulate Voting Assistance Officer
The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana is available to answer questions about absentee voting. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, please send an e-mail to HavanaConsularInfo@state.gov.
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may download a free version by clicking the link above.