It may not be a presidential election year, but that doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to voting! In the November 2014 elections, all the seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate seats will be up for grabs. Will you make your vote count?
Rocking the Vote
If you are concerned that you can’t vote because you’re overseas, have we got news for you! The Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) exists solely to help expats make sure their vote is counted. If you haven’t voted abroad yet, OVF makes it simple! Simply visit their website and find easy access to voting registration, as well as the ability to request an absentee ballot—all online.
Voter registration and ballot requests may be sent to you automatically from the voting precincts where you are registered. Of course, if you didn’t forward your mail to your overseas address, that won’t work for you. In this case, registering online is the best option.
It is important to keep in mind that every US state has different voting deadlines. You can check your state’s deadlines on the OVP website as well.
In prior years, the ballot request form required voters to indicate whether or not they planned to return to the US. This year’s ballot request form does not ask this—you can simply note that you are a resident outside the US and you aren’t sure when you may return. Many expats chose not to register to vote previously because they felt the questions on the ballot request form were intrusive, which is why OVF and ACA (American Citizens Abroad) worked collaboratively to ensure these changes were incorporated this year.
If you miss the deadline for ballot request or submission, you always have the option to vote via the federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB). The FWAB is an alternative ballot, and can in certain states (AK, AZ, AR, CO, DE, DC, GA, IA, MA, ME, MD, MN, MS, MT, NE, NC, NV, OK, OR, SC, SD, UT, VA, or WA ) serve both as a voter registration document and absentee ballot.
Increasing Number of Americans Overseas
According to OVF’s site, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released a report, A Model for Developing Estimates of U.S. Citizens Abroad: Final Technical Report, that presents a new model for developing estimates of American citizens living overseas. The report notes that “the number of U.S. citizens living overseas has grown steadily from 2000 to 2010, increasing 60% overall during that period.”
But what is most interesting about that report, is that there has been no such increase in expat voting in that same time frame. There may be significant technological advancements to aid in overseas registration, but the numbers don’t reflect that.
This is surprising because in 2014, our US Expat Opinion Survey revealed that 86% of those surveyed felt that their interests weren’t well represented in the US government. For those who feel they aren’t represented properly, voting is the best way to ensure your voice is heard.
Voting for Military Personnel
There is an excellent article on the OVF website that outlines how military personnel can make sure they vote. This article notes that often it is more difficult for those in the military to vote, but outlined some of the helpful resources available to them.
If you are an American overseas, it is your right to have a say in the election of government officials in the US. While it may take a bit more effort (and planning since you must start the process well in advance of the election), your voice matters—and your vote counts. Register to vote through OVF today and make sure the expat voice is heard loud and clear!
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