Expat life

Voting from Abroad for US Citizens

Batman Robin Vote for Bernie Sanders slap comic
In case you’ve been living under an internet-less rock, the US’s two-party political system is alive and kicking, and the primaries are happening soon. The actual presidential election isn’t for another 14 months (!!) but the primaries will take place in the next few months, and in many states you must be registered with the political party in whose primary you want to vote (and you need to be registered by about next month). Meaning, if you #FeelTheBern but are a registered independent voter like me, you need to change this! In addition, pay attention to local and state elections since those can have a quicker and more direct impact on your beloved last place of residence in the US (which, for me, is my hometown, and I care about how those elections play out).

I have recently discovered that I was wrong about which elections expats are allowed to vote in, and how they go about registering to vote absentee. Look into your last state’s laws on whether or not you can vote in local and state elections. The resources I want to pass along are:

  • Federal Voting Assistance Program, the official voting resource for US citizens living overseas.
  • Vote From Abroad, the non-partisan place where you officially register to vote and request your absentee ballot. Keep going through until you’ve downloaded the Federal Post Card Application — towards the end, if you don’t want to sign up for any newsletters just leave the boxes unchecked and click ‘Continue’. It takes 4 minutes! Do this now!
  • Democrats Abroad, the handiest point of contact for any US expats left-of-center and leftish-center. They make registering and applying absentee from your last US place of residence pretty straightforward via Vote From Abroad (linked above), and send you emails with updates on which elections you can vote in are coming up. You can probably opt out of the less helpful mailings. There’s also a Republican one.
  • VoteForBernie.org, the site that kicked my butt into gear. It shows on a map when the primaries/caucuses are and gives voter registration deadlines and links. And, the prospect of a progressive socialist president makes me so, so happy.

Remember: no taxation without representation! They’re taxing you, so be sure to make your voice heard. (As a US citizen, even if you live abroad, you are required to file taxes every year.)

An informed, accessible democracy makes us free. Exercise your basic civil right. And get your paperwork in order beforehand.

Nothing is certain except death and taxes[, and both suck when you’re an expat].

— Benjamin Franklin