Now that we’re reaching the home stretch of this election cycle, I thought I would take the time to remind my fellow American travelers and expats that no matter where you are in the world, you have a civic duty to vote in the upcoming election. Because sadly, the political memes you post on Facebook do not count as an official vote.
But luckily, it’s not that difficult to vote abroad. It might even be easier than standing in line on November 8th at the polls.
Step 1: Fill out your Voter Registration/Absentee Ballot Request.
You can do so through your own state’s department of elections, but it’s easier if you use this handy website which is especially designed for citizens living overseas, including members of the military. It automatically pulls up the form required by your state and allows you to fill it out online.
Step 2: Print and sign the form.
Once you’ve filled out the proper form, you can download a PDF or have it emailed to you. The next step is to print and sign it. If you don’t have access to a printer where you’re staying, find your nearest copy shop or internet cafe. If you don’t want to spend a cent to vote in this election, you can even go to a hotel nearby and use their business center.
Step 3: Return the Absentee Ballot Request Form.
You can check all the different ways your state accepts ballot requests here. You can also check deadlines. I encourage you to do so to make sure you request a ballot before your state’s deadline and that you return it before the deadline has passed. Depending on your state, you may even be able to email your ballot request, so you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas to do this. Once your request form is signed, it’s time to submit it for processing. If you can fax or email your request, you can use apps like Scannable to scan the document and send it via email. You can use Fax Burner to fax it in.
Step 4: Return your absentee ballot by the deadline.
Once you get your ballot, make sure you vote and return it in time. Some states require the ballot be postmarked by November 8, but others require that it arrive by November 8, sometimes even a couple of of days before. Check the information on your state to make sure your vote counts.
And your vote will count. There are over 8 million Americans living abroad. For perspective, Bush and Gore were separated by only 543,895 votes in 2000. In 1960, Kennedy beat Nixon by 118,574 votes.
And there are 8 million of us!
So whether you’re trying to find yourself on the Amalfi Coast or teaching English for one semester in Taiwan, do not forget to vote! The world is vast and beautiful, and we need to make sure that we preserve it by ensuring that a person that will probably bring about a nuclear holocaust is not elected president of the most powerful country in the world.