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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about voting overseas

vote AFD-130926-028By Federal Assistance Voting Program

FAQ’s for uniformed and overseas absentee voters

Do I have to register to vote absentee even if I registered to vote before in the U.S.?

YES: Registration requirements vary from State to State. Most States require you to complete an absentee ballot application to start the absentee voting process months in advance of the election. FVAP encourages the use of the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to start the absentee voting process as it is standardized for use across all States and territories and will extend your eligibility to receive a ballot for all federal elections in which you are eligible, based on State-specific guidelines. The FPCA acts as both a registration and absentee ballot request form.

How do I register absentee to receive my ballot?

Get the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) online at

The FPCA can be easily completed by using the FPCA online assistant, following the online steps to select your state and complete the form. Other options include filling out the PDF or picking up a hardcopy version from the voting assistance officer located in Building 2913 room 114 on Panzer Kaserne.

  1. Complete and sign the FPCA using your State’s instructions. Find your state’s instructions here.
  2. Fold and seal your FPCA. If using the online FPCA, print, sign and put it in an envelope. You qualify for free postage if you use the approved envelope template.
  3. Address and mail the FPCA to your local election official. Be sure to include your return address, and affix postage if using a foreign postal service.

Pressed for time? Download the FPCA now and take it with you.

When should I receive my ballot? What happens if I do not receive a ballot from my local election office?

Election officials are required to send your absentee ballot 45 days before an election for those who are registered and have requested a ballot. If you submit your FPCA within 45 days of the election, they will send your ballot as soon as possible, upon processing your form.
If you do not receive your absentee ballot from your State in time to return it to your election official to participate in the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The FWAB (SF 186) serves as a backup ballot for citizens overseas.The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot can be used in all States to vote for federal offices (President/Vice President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative and Delegate or Resident Commissioner).If you receive your State absentee ballot after submitting the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot:  Use it to vote and return it as well. If both your State ballot and your FWAB are received by the deadline, only one will be counted.

If I do not maintain a legal residence in the U.S., what is my “legal State of residence”?

Your legal State of residence is your address in the State where you last lived, immediately prior to leaving the United States.

This residence may remain valid even if:

  • You no longer own property or have other ties to that State.
  • Your intent to return to that State is uncertain.
  • Your previous address is no longer a recognized residential address.
Have more questions? Contact the Voting Assistance Program office Building 2913, Room 114, Panzer Kaserne DSN: 431-2865/civ. 07031-15-2865,

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