To Vote or Not to Vote?

One of the many challenges of living overseas is making sure my voice gets heard in the elections back in the USA!  Just because I live overseas doesn’t mean I don’t get to vote in USA election, it just means I have to do a bit more paperwork to make sure my voice gets heard through absentee voting.  So for you American citizens it is not to late to vote in the elections next month!

I am not going to tell you who you should vote for as both Obama and Romney have positives and negatives but what I will tell you is to make sure you vote for who you think the better candidate!

The other day I got this email from the Embassy here in Poland and I wanted to pass it along to you in case you thought it was to late to vote.

 U.S. Embassy Warsaw Poland

Message for U.S. Citizens

Completing and Returning Absentee Ballots

1 October 2012

Absentee ballots already delivered to overseas voters.  Every U.S. citizen who requested an absentee ballot and selected the fax or email delivery option should have it by now.  Please vote and take steps to return your voted ballot promptly so your vote will count.  See instructions below.

Returning your ballot by mail.  Place your voted ballot in a U.S. postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials.  Drop it off at the Embassy, and we’ll send it back home for you without the need to pay international postage.  If you can’t visit the Embassy in person, ask a friend or colleague drop it off for you.  If it’s easier for you to use Poland’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  If time is tight, you may want to use a private courier service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, or DHL) to meet your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

 If you bring your forms or ballots to the Embassy we will place a date stamp and seal on your ballot as evidence of the date and location from which the ballot was mailed.  However, this is not a postmark.  Diplomatic pouch to the east coast takes approximately six days to reach the diplomatic pouch facility near Washington, D.C. Processing and onward delivery by the U.S. Postal Service to local election officials across the U.S. can take up to a week.   

 Returning your ballot by email, fax, or upload.  Some states allow these options, but may also require you to still mail in the signed paper ballot.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website

Haven’t received your ballot yet?  Use the emergency write-in ballot.  U.S. citizens who requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received it should go to to complete a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.  Follow the above guidance for returning your ballot.  If you later receive your regular absentee ballot, vote and return it immediately. Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if received by your state’s ballot receipt deadline.

Forgot to register or request an absentee ballot? Act immediately!  There are three options.

Option #1:  Register and request a ballot today using the federal post card application at Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number) and send it to local election officials in your state.  Almost every state lets you submit it by email or fax.  Once your application is processed they will send you your ballot via fax or email depending on your state.  Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot.  Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state’s requirements carefully.

Option#2:  Follow the instructions in Option #1, but also complete and send in a Federal Write-in Ballot at the same time to make sure your vote is counted.  This option may be the best one for first-time voters if your state requires you to submit your Federal Post Card Application by mail.  Vote and submit your regular absentee ballot if/when it arrives.  Local election officials will count just one ballot per voter, and will use the regular ballot if it’s received by the ballot receipt deadline.

Option #3:  Voters from the following states can use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot as a combined voter registration form, absentee ballot request, and absentee ballot:  Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.  (NOTE: This form must reach your local election officials by your state’s absentee ballot request deadline or voter registration deadline, whichever is first.)

 Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by mail.  Follow the guidance above for returning your ballot by mail.?

Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax.  The following states allow voters to email or fax their signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots back to local election officials: Arizona, California (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.  (NOTE:  see instructions at for faxing or emailing your voted ballot.)

Have Questions?  Please contact U.S. Embassy Warsaw Voting Assistance Officer at +22 504 2784, or by email at

Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online. Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at

If you live overseas call your local embassy for more information.

Do you remember the first time you voted?  

My first time I did was absentee because I was living in Berlin at the time.

love kelley
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