Basic Absentee Voting Process
Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who are or will be residing outside the U.S. during an election period are eligible to vote absentee in any election for federal office. This includes primary, run-off, and special elections that occur throughout the year. Some states allow overseas voters to vote in elections for state and local offices, and for state and local referendums. Here is the basic procedure:
- You complete an application form (see below) and send it to local election officials in the U.S.
- The local official approves your request, or contacts you for further information.
- The local official sends you an absentee ballot.
- You vote the ballot and send it back in time to meet your state's deadline.
Useful Links and Information
The official U.S. Government website for overseas absentee voting assistance is the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website at http://www.fvap.gov/. It has a wealth of information about absentee voting, including the downloadable absentee ballot application, state-specific instructions for completing the form, links to state and local officials, and a downloadable emergency ballot.
Overseas citizens groups help people to vote. We encourage you to contact Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad, or other American citizens groups or organizations for assistance in registering to vote and requesting absentee ballots. Links to these groups can be found at the FVAP website.
To register to vote and to request an absentee ballot, download the Federal Post Card Application at the FVAP website can also obtain this form from overseas American citizens groups or from the U.S. Embassy. Fill it out and send it in, following the guidelines for your state.
Be an educated voter. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is widely available and easy to obtain via the Internet. Use the links appearing on the FVAP website at or choose any one of several search engines to locate articles and information.
An emergency ballot is available. If the ballot receipt deadline is approaching, and you have not yet received the blank ballot from local officials, you can download an emergency ballot, write in the names of the candidates and the offices for which they are running, and send it back in time to meet your state's ballot receipt deadline. The emergency ballot (SF-186, Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, or FWAB) is available on the FVAP website.
If you have any questions, the Voting Assistance Officer at Embassy Doha can assist you. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.