Voting In 2016 U.S. Elections

Note: Please remember U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates are not polling places. Same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.

Your vote counts!
Did you know that many U.S. elections for 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:

Request Your Ballot:
Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You must complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2016 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2016 elections. 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. We 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 FPCA to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature.

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.

Return Your Completed Ballot:
Place your registration materials or ballots in the postage paid return envelope (provided by your election officials, or use the online templates for registration or ballots) and address your voting materials to the relevant local election officials. Processing time is generally one to two weeks for materials to reach the U.S. postal system.

Fax, E-mail, or Internet – Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can do so free of charge at the U.S. consulate.

Express Courier Service – If time is short or local mail is unreliable, you can use professional courier services such as FedEx, DHL, or UPS. Check the Overseas Vote Foundation website for information about reduced rates for voters. Note: FedEx does not deliver to P.O. boxes.

U.S. Consulate Karachi – U.S. citizens may drop off voting materials to be returned to the U.S. any Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate Karachi, Plot 3, 4, 5, New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road, Mai Kolach Bypass, Karachi, Pakistan. This does not include public holidays, U.S. or Pakistani.

Researching the Candidates and Issues:
Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain on-line. You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

Using an Emergency Write-In Ballot:
Don’t be a passive voter and wait for a ballot that may not reach you in time. If you followed all the right steps but still haven’t received your ballot 30 days before the election, you should complete and submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Download the FWAB here, write in the candidates of your choice, and send it to your local election officials. If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and mail it back too. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s ballot receipt deadline. Proper submission of both ballots will not invalidate your vote or result in two votes being cast.

Voting Eligibility:
Most U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to vote absentee for candidates for federal offices in U.S. primary and general elections. In addition, some states allow overseas citizens to vote for candidates for state and local offices, as well as for state and local referendums. For information regarding your specific state, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Voting Assistance Guide or the Overseas Vote Foundation website. The Overseas Vote Foundation is a non-partisan voter advocacy organization.

Each U.S. state has its own voting eligibility and residency requirements. Visit the FVAP website for information regarding your state of legal residence. For voting purposes, your state of legal residence is generally the state where you resided in immediately before leaving the United States, even if you no longer own or rent property or intend to return there in the future. Eighteen states specifically allow U.S. citizens who have never resided in the United States to register where a parent would be eligible to vote. Direct your questions about eligibility to your local election officials.

Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov.

Remember, your vote counts!