How to Get Absentee Ballots for U.S. Citizens

Voting-Quote-1My husband and I have always exercised our right to vote in local, state, and national elections. Even as expats, we continue to vote for we believe that “the ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

With important elections in the United States now upon us, I want to explain our process of receiving absentee ballots and voting from Nicaragua.

Recently I received this notice from the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua.
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 5.16.15 PM
1. Go to the Federal Post Card Application (FCPA) on the site

2. Click on Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 5.48.14 PMChoose the last state in which you lived, or get an address of a family member if you have never lived in the U.S. The process is different according to the state in which you apply for the absentee ballot.  Our state is Tennessee and we had an inactive status on our voter registration form because we never received the notice to verify our U.S. address. So, we could use the FPCA application to register to vote as well as receive our absentee ballots.

3. You can register to vote, request a ballot, or upgrade your voter info by clicking on the FVAP assistant.
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 5.55.18 PM4. Once you complete the automated assistant, you can download and print the forms. You will need a printer because you cannot sign the form electronically.
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 6.01.05 PM5. Depending on the state in which you register, you can mail the application form, or email the application form. I downloaded our forms and printed them, but I wanted to email the forms to our local election office after we had signed them. Since we don’t have a scanner or a fax, the easiest way was to take a picture of the completed forms with our signatures and hope that when I attached them in an email to our local election office, they would be accepted.

6. All of the information you need to send the application forms back will be available at the end of your application including physical address, email address, and fax number.

7. Five minutes after I attached our forms in an email, we received four documents
( instructions, affidavit, ballot, and envelope to print) from our local election office and this notice.

Your absentee ballot is being e-mailed to you because you requested that option on your Absentee Ballot Request.  Because your ballot is being e-mailed to you, we are not able to provide you a ballot envelope with an attached affidavit as is done when the ballot is mailed to you.  Therefore, please follow the instructions carefully and completely in order for your ballot to be legally counted.  By law your ballot can be e-mailed to you, but you must print, vote and mail it back.   YOU CANNOT E-MAIL YOUR TENNESSEE BALLOT BACK.

8. The Tennessee primary is on March 1st, so our ballots need to be returned soon.
We have the option of taking them to the U.S. Embassy in Managua, mailing them independently, or asking a friend who is returning to the U.S. to mail them for us.

Jon came to our house to visit today and he is taking our absentee ballots with him and mailing them from the U.S. Thanks, Jon!!!

I can’t stress enough how simple the process is to apply for and receive absentee ballots. If you live abroad and are a U.S. citizen, your vote counts. Keep in mind that if you want to vote in the general election in November, you should start the process now to receive your ballots.

Happy Voting!


8 thoughts on “How to Get Absentee Ballots for U.S. Citizens

  1. Thanks for explaining this for the ones living abroad that need to know this info. I realize things have to be done way ahead there to arrive at the destination in time.

    As far as voting goes and Heidi’s opinion (above), I have to agree to a point. I’ve felt that way many times, however I still vote even if it’s not for one of the two main parties in the US. Some people would consifder this throwing your vote away, but I don’t. I’m still voting the way I see fit to vote. I have no idea if things will ever be turned around here, but all you can do is try. The regular politician isn’t the way to go in my opinion, unless you want the same thing we’ve had for years here. I’m for taking a chance on anyone who isn’t part of the “good old boy” network. I don’t think things would be any worse if one of those people got in for a change. That’s my two cents. Everyone has to do what they think is right and that’s fine with me.

  2. Great info for those whom need it ,,

    I don’t vote ,,, not after learning all I know now..after “””””many years of educating myself…””””””

    its all crock of bullshit,,,and veiled to the max!!!!

    your vote means nothing ,,,

    but whatever ,,, you have your opinions and I have mine ,,,

    everyones path is different and I certainly don’t judge your opinions and decisions to vote , each to their own!!

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