So you’ve unpacked your bags, shaken off those last remnants of jetlag, and are ready to dive into a carefree semester of breathtaking sights, drool-worthy food, and new friends. There’s nothing quite like saying goodbye to the responsibilities, expectations, and to-do lists of daily life in the United States for a semester, right? Not so fast! This fall semester there is one especially important expectation from home to fulfill, one particular responsibility to remember, one key item to throw at the top of your “to-do” list and then put a big, fat check mark in front of: voting in the 2016 Presidential Election.
The thought of sifting through all the information and forms sitting between you and your ballot while you are living abroad can feel overwhelming- at least I know it felt that way for me when I was backpacking in Asia during the 2012 election. The great news is that it is now easier than ever to vote while studying abroad, and your SAI onsite staff is here to help. Here are the super simple steps for making your vote count this semester:
1. Request your ballot by completing a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) by visiting FVAP.gov
An online voting assistant will walk you through the steps and deadlines specific to your state. For some states, the entire voting process can be done electronically, and for some states it can’t. If your state does not allow electronic delivery of ballots, use the address of your SAI onsite office as your delivery address when filling out your FPCA and we’ll make sure your ballot gets to you once it arrives.
2. Receive and complete your ballot
As easy as it sounds! States are required to send out ballots 45 days before the election. For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online. If your ballot is mailed to a SAI onsite office, we will let you know when we receive it.
3. Return your completed ballot
Again, some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots by mail, you can do so free of charge at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address them to the relevant local election officials.
4. Good job! You voted!
Treat yo’self! Get back to enjoying your semester in Europe with a night out, a roommate dinner in, or that weekend trip you’ve been thinking of booking because, hey, the democratic process is as good a reason as any to celebrate!