Absentee Voting Procedure
Now all U.S. citizens can receive their blank ballots electronically. Depending on the state in which you are eligible to vote, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. To start, go to www.FVAP.gov to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) online. Print and sign the form then return it to your local election office in the United States, using the contact information available for your state at www.FVAP.gov.
If you request electronic delivery and include your email address or fax number on the FPCA, you’ll receive your blank ballot 45 days before general and mid-term elections and generally 30 days before special, primary, and run-off elections for federal offices. Most states now have voter registration verification websites, and many offer a means of tracking the status of your registration and ballot.
Important Note: States are no longer required to automatically send ballots to voters for an entire election cycle so everyone who wants to vote in U.S. elections from overseas should send in a new Federal Post Card Application in January of each year.
In which state should I register to vote?
Most Americans living abroad should be able to vote in U.S. federal elections. Voting is coordinated through state authorities, so overseas voters need a connection of some kind with a U.S. state in order to vote.
Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the State or territory where you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the United States. This applies to overseas citizens even though you may not have property or other ties in your last State of residence and your intent to return to that State may be uncertain.
Some States allow children of U.S. citizens residing overseas who are U.S. citizens but who have never resided in the U.S., to claim one of their parent’s legal State of residence as their own. Direct your questions about eligibility to your local election officials.
Can I vote at a polling station at the Embassy?
No. The only way to vote from overseas is by absentee ballot.
Returning Your Voted Ballot
Complete your ballot carefully and legibly, and return it to your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline. Send it back as early as possible.
Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:
- Fax, Email, or Internet: A number of states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots. Consult your state’s transmission options in the FVAP State Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
- Local mail: Place your ballot in the Romanian mail with appropriate international postage and mail it directly to the local election officials in the state where you vote. Make sure USA is indicated at the end of the address of your U.S. board of elections. Then, mail it from any Romanian post office.
- U.S. Embassy Pouch/APO/FPO: While you cannot vote at the Embassy, you can send or submit your voted ballot to the U.S. Embassy to be mailed back to a U.S. sorting facility. The Embassy will accept ballots by mail or by drop-off in a Voting Ballot Drop-Box located at the Consular Section entrance. In order to mail election-related materials to the Embassy or drop them off for inclusion in the diplomatic pouch, you will need two envelopes.
- Address the first envelope to the U.S. Embassy at B-dul Dr. Liviu Librescu nr 4-6, Sector 1, Bucuresti 015118.
- Address the second envelope to your local state election office and enclose your FPCA or ballot inside. The second envelope needs to be postage-paid or have sufficient U.S. postage to be delivered to your local election office from the U.S. sorting facility where it will be mailed. We cannot provide postage for the ballot envelopes. You can print a postage-paid envelope from the FVAP website.
- Seal the second envelope, place it inside the first envelope, and mail the package to the U.S. Embassy or utilize the Voting Ballot Drop-Box located at the Consular Section entrance. This process can take two weeks from the receipt of the ballot by the Embassy to when it enters into the US postal system for final delivery. Due to COVID-19, please keep in mind there may be delays in the Romanian and the United States general postal service. All overseas U.S. citizens are advised to submit their forms and ballots accordingly. It is faster to submit your election materials electronically, and we encourage voters to take advantage of this opportunity if your state allows it. If you wish to drop off your ballot at the embassy, please note that all visitors to the Embassy are subject to security screening and you will not be permitted to bring electronic devices, including cell phones, inside the facility.
- Express Courier Service: If time is short or local mail is unreliable, you can use professional courier services such as FedEx, DHL or UPS. Note: Express courier services do not deliver mail to PO boxes.
Using a Federal Write In Absentee Ballot
If you followed all the right steps but still haven’t received your ballot 30 days before the election, you should complete and submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Print an FWAB or fill it out online at http://www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms. Write in the candidates of your choice, and send it to your local election official. If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and send it back too. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s deadline. Following this procedure will not invalidate your vote or result in two votes being cast.
Voting and Taxes
Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect your federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect your state tax liability. Consult legal counsel if you have questions.
Researching the candidates and issues: online resources.
Go to the FVAP links page for helpful resources to aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook (@DODFVAP), Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov).