Monday, October 8, 2012

Absentee Ballot

There's a big election coming up on November 6th.  When I was back in the USA on holiday several people asked me if I planned to vote.  I think the question was often more meant to be not if I will vote but how do I get to vote? 

A U.S. citizen who lives overseas gets to vote via absentee ballot.  The first thing you need to do is go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website to complete the Federal Post Card Application which allows you to participate in elections as an absentee voter.

There are new absentee voting laws which went in to effect for the 2012 elections.  All U.S. citizens outside of the USA must complete a new Federal Post Card Application every year if he or she wants to vote from overseas.  You no longer receive ballots automatically based on previous requests.

Citizens who don't want to deal with foreign postage can take their ballots to the U.S. Embassy.  You can't vote there but it will go in to the diplomatic mail system and you don't have to pay overseas postage.   The closest American embassies to me are in Vienna and Bratislava, both of which are 1.5 hours away.  The Prague Embassy is 3 hours away so it was just easier to print out my ballot online and mail it in via Česká Pošta. 

I had thought about just mailing it from the USA while I was home but you can't do that.  If the postmark is from any location inside the USA, the local election official may or may not count the ballot.
You have to make sure you get your ballot in early.  Overseas absentee ballots are accepted up to 3 days after an election as long as it is postmarked by Election Day.  

For voting purposes, I am still considered a Georgia resident.  However, since I live overseas and no longer have legal residence in Georgia I am not allowed to vote in local and state elections.  I only get to vote in federal elections.  Atlanta can be described as a big blue dot in a red state.  As a whole, Georgia is very conservative.  Atlanta however, is very liberal.  Despite the fact that Georgia's electoral votes will most likely go Republican in the upcoming election I still believe that every vote counts.

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