11 February, 2016

How to Vote in the 2016 U.S. Elections from the UK - by Anna Doherty

Hello Everyone!!
This year is very exciting for many reasons, but particularly because we get to engage in one of the great steps of our democracy, voting for the next president! As you know, this year we are going to elect a new president. Now while the general election is in November, the primaries are upon us. As you might have noticed, we are currently living in England and therefore we are not able to find a physical place for us to go and vote on the date of our states’ primaries. But don’t let that discourage you! I have done my research and plan on helping all of you make sure your vote counts. The primaries are extremely important and every vote matters, so make sure your voice is heard.
To begin, if you want to check your registration status you can look yourself up at this link
Sorry if you live somewhere where the voting has already occurred. Also check the primary schedule because some state’s primary voting occurs after the London program ends.
Did you know that many U.S. elections for the House and Senate have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters? All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2016 U.S. elections:
1.     Request Your Ballot: If you are not residing in the U.S. currently (us) you have to let the government know where you are living! Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).  The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections during the calendar year in which it is submitted. The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories. 
You can complete the FPCA online at FVAP.gov.  The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. They encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  Return the FPCA per the instructions on the website.  FVAP.gov will tell you if your state allows the FPCAto be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature.
Great job on step one! The next step is even more exciting (it includes actually voting!).
2.     Receive and Complete Your Ballot: States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections.  For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.
Ballots are generally mailed out only 30 days before primary, special and run-off elections. Depending on your state and your status abroad, you may receive absentee ballots for all elections or abbreviated ballots for elections for federal offices only. 
Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:
·       Local mail   If you have good mail service to the United States, put your ballot in the mail with appropriate international postage.
·       U.S. Embassy Pouch/APO/FPO   You can drop off your ballot request or voted ballot at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for return to the United States, or you can have someone drop it off for you.  It must be addressed to your local election officials and have sufficient postage or be in a postage-paid envelope. A postage-paid envelope is available on the FVAP web site.  Contact the voting assistance officer or visit the Embassy website for specific instructions.
·       Fax, Email, or Internet  A number of states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots.  Consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Voting Assistance Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
·       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:  FedEx does not deliver to P.O. boxes.
You did it! You made your decision! Congrats on voting. Maybe make a fake “I Voted” sticker and wear it around and confuse some people.
I hope you all do some rigorous research on the candidates before making your decision! Voting is very exciting. If you have any questions feel free to email me at adohert1@ithaca.edu

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