Healthy Voting for Americans Abroad

For the November 3, 2020 general election for Americans Abroad

  • All voters must be registered to cast a ballot.

Healthy Voting tips

Voting by mail is a healthy option because it lets you maintain physical distance and helps reduce crowding at in-person voting centers.

If you go out to vote - whether to drop off a ballot or vote in person - follow these common-sense precautions:

  • Wear a mask or other face covering.
  • Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet to protect yourself, election workers, and other voters.
  • Before and after voting, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

If you are sick or concerned that you have been exposed to the coronavirus, seek medical care. If you don’t have an absentee ballot, contact your local election office for guidance about your voting options.

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Voting by mail is a healthy option because you vote at home. If you go out at all, it's only to mail or drop off your ballot.

It’s also the only way for Americans Abroad to vote. Because international mail takes longer to arrive, some states offer special options for military and overseas voters to request, receive and return your ballot.


The deadline to return a ballot varies by state. In many states, you must mail your ballot by Election Day, November 3, 2020.

The Federal Voting Assistance Project (FVAP) has detailed information about dates and deadlines for each state.

How to get your ballot

The deadline to request a ballot varies by state.

In some states, military and overseas voters can request a ballot up to the day before Election Day and receive it by email.

You can:

  • Use the official ballot request form for your state.
  • Ask for a request form to be sent to you by email (in most states).
  • Register and request your ballot at the same time using the Federal Post Card Application from your local elections office or use the online form from FVAP.


  • Check your state’s deadlines and options for American Abroad.
  • Make sure to check if your ballot needs to be postmarked or received by a certain date. This varies by state.
  • If you are voting by mail for the first time, check the ID requirements carefully.

If you missed the deadline to request a ballot contact your elections office or FVAP for a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.

How to return your ballot

Make sure you return your ballot in time to be counted. If it might not arrive on time by mail, some states provide military and overseas voters with additional options to return your ballot.

Be sure to contact your elections office or FVAP to check the rules in your state.

Americans Abroad can return their ballot by:

  • Mail
  • Email (in some states)
  • Fax (in some states)
  • A commercial service like DHL, FedEx or UPS

Make sure your ballot counts! Remember...

  • Be sure to sign the declaration on the return envelope or follow the instructions for an emailed ballot.
  • Return your ballot as soon as possible. The Federal Voting Assistance Program recommends sending your ballot by October 13, 2020 if you are outside the US.
  • If you mail your ballot from outside of the US, make sure you add enough postage to make it to the US. Ballots mailed within the US do not need postage.
  • Check to see if your ballot was received.

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