Voting Absentee: How to Vote while Studying Abroad

Wondering how to vote while studying abroad?  The process is called voting absentee it’s easier than you might think!

I voted absentee while in college in both the 2012 and 2014 elections. As long as you follow the steps below, voting while away from home is easy as pie.

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Here’s How to Vote while Studying Abroad:

First things first, you need to register to vote. It only takes like five minutes and you can find the online registration forms here.

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Up close and personal at the White House

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s everything you need to know about how to vote while studying abroad:

Qualifying for Absentee Voting 

People usually vote absentee because they are

  • College students who study outside of their Congressional District (i.e. abroad or out of state)
  • Expats working abroad.
  • In the military.
  • Unable to get to the polls.
  • Over 65 years old.

Absentee voting by mail is NOT for people who just don’t want to wait in the lines on Election Day. I know it’s the worst, but that’s what early voting is for. Luckily this doesn’t apply to those who wish to vote while studying abroad — as you are literally out of the country.

When is Election Day?

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Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Because of this, it can be anywhere from November 2nd – November 8th

Upcoming National American Election Dates:

November 8, 2016

November 6, 2018

November 3, 2020

November 8, 2022

To find out about local elections from your specific Congressional District, click here.

Registering to Vote while Studying Abroad 

To receive your absentee ballot, you’ll need to

  • Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and select your “home” state from the dropdown menu (or your domicile state, if you want to get fancy about it).
  • Make sure you have access to a printer.
  • Download and fill out the Federal Post Card Application.
  • Mail it to your “home” county’s voting office.

You can find the list of addresses on the Federal Voting Assistance website, and please note that I’m saying COUNTY not COUNTRY. Easy mistake, but it could cost you your vote.

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Where everyone else that you elect will work.

Deadlines for Voting while Studying Abroad 

To avoid being complacent in the the most important American elections ever, now that you know about overseas voting, you need to get after it!

Technically, the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot varies by state (and you can find a complete list of voter registration and absentee ballot deadlines here) but the general consensus for voting while studying abroad is

  • you have until the last week of October to request an absentee ballot

and

  • your absentee ballot needs to be received by Election Day, not just postmarked by then.

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How to vote while studying abroad

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