Jan 29th, 2016, 03:04 PM

A Step-by-Step Guide on Registering to Vote From Overseas

By Ali Beau Nielsen
Image Credit: Flickr/jamelah e.
It's the most important part of being a US citizen...

"Many elections in the House and Senate have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters," according to a message from US citizens voting abroad for the 2016 election. The Embassy of the United States in Paris estimates that there are roughly 100,000 US citizens currently living in France and according to the State Department there are a few million overall in other countries of the world. That's more than enough to sway a primary one way or the other, and it is imperative that everyone with a US passport vote in these upcoming primary elections.

Here is how to do it: 

Follow this link to the Federal Voting Assistance Program and on the dropdown menu to the left, select the state you most recently lived in before moving to Paris. 
Virginia will be used here as an example. 


Image credit: fvap.gov/virginia

The Virginia primary takes place on March 1st. Residents of Virginia must register for their absentee ballot request application by February 8th. To get your request application, scroll down and click on the link "Use FVAP's Online Assistant." 


Image credit: fvap.gov

When classifying who you are, select "US citizen residing outside the US, and I intend to return," even if you don't intend to return whatsoever. This is the only way to be allowed to vote in your state's primary. Otherwise, the only option available to you is the general election in November, and by that time your favorite candidate might be out of the race and it'll be all your fault. 


Image credit: fvap.gov
 

After clicking "next" the program will ask you to fill out your personal information, identification, and contact information. It will also request that you declare a political party. Even if you're an independent or unlisted party member, you must file which primary you will be voting in and you cannot cast a ballot for both major parties. 


Image credit: fvap.gov

On the next page, you will be asked to fill out your US voting residence. After that, submit your mailing address here in Paris. Then you will select how you want to receive your absentee ballot and designate the period in which you want to receive ballots. 


Image credit: fvap.gov

The end of the page you must verify and download the "PDF Package" by clicking on the red button in the middle of the screen. It's required that you print this document, sign it, and mail it to your county or city board of elections. Conveniently, the address of the elections office is written on the form. 

Now all you need is a stamp. Happy voting!