Voting as an American Expat

Exciting news! Greenback Expat Tax Services has partnered with the Overseas Vote Foundation to spread awareness of how expats can vote abroad. Voting, like taxes, can feel confusing and overwhelming for Americans living abroad, which is why Greenback decided to take action. Find out more about this great organization below.

The Overseas Vote Foundation

The Overseas Vote Foundation is an organization that is both non-partisan and non-profit that helps Americans living abroad participate in elections. Their mission is “for every citizen to have open access to voter information and the ability to easily engage in their democracy and civic life with voting as a central action.” Greenback cares about all issues expats face – not just taxes – and so partnering with this foundation is another way that Greenback maintains its commitment to advocating for expat rights around the globe.

Greenback Survey Showed Americans Living Abroad Want Their Voices to Be Heard

In our 2018 Expat Survey, we received input from over 3,800 US expats. For the third year in a row, the survey data suggests that the vast majority of US expats do not feel that their interests are represented fairly by the US government. The survey also found that 63.7% of Americans living abroad plan to vote in the November mid-term elections; these votes could play an important role.

In the past, expats have understandably felt that their votes are inconsequential in influencing the final outcome of elections, but the 2018 Mid-Terms may be very different. Why? With an estimated 9 million people living abroad, if a third of these individuals are adults and eligible to vote and 63.7% of them actually do vote (which is the number our survey results suggested), that makes up an estimated 1.9 million votes. So, for comparison, see below the following 2016 Presidential election results as reported by US News:

  • New Hampshire was won by 2,701 – Democratic
  • Michigan was won by 13,080 votes – Republican
  • Maine was won by 19,995 votes – Democratic
  • Nevada was won by 26,434 votes – Democratic
  • Wisconsin was won by 27,257 votes – Republican
  • Minnesota was won by 44,470 votes – Democratic
  • Pennsylvania was won by 68,236 votes – Republican
  • Arizona was won by 91,682 votes – Republican
  • Florida was won by 114,455 votes – Republican
  • North Carolina was won by 177,009 votes – Republican

These states were won with “too close to call” results. In situations like those listed above, absentee ballots (like those filed by US expats) are critical and can be game-changing.

How Expats Can Vote

Expats have the right to vote in each election since they retain their US citizenship, no matter where they are residing. To do so, expats should request an absentee ballot form and send it into the election office at your last place of residence in the US. You can obtain an absentee ballot through the Overseas Vote Foundation. In certain circumstances, expats can use early voting options. Registered voters will need to complete a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) through the Federal Voting Assistance Program to receive ballots. If you’re requested a ballot but do not receive it before the state deadline, simply request a federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB).

If you’re new to being an expat or just considering a move abroad, make sure you have your mail forwarding service set up before you leave. And remember that some expats will need to fill out a hard copy of a voter registration, so you may need access to a printer. Others can submit registration and ballots online, so long as the internet is available. These stipulations usually depend on which state you’re from, so check to find out what conditions apply to you.

Questions About Voting or Paying Taxes Abroad?

We’re happy to help you along your expat journey. Contact Greenback today, and you’ll get the answers you need!

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