With the election season upon us, I want to encourage my fellow Americans in New Zealand and Samoa to vote.  Though you may not live in the United States, you have the right to make your voice heard by submitting an absentee ballot.  Even if you have never lived in the United States, you may still be able to cast a ballot if you are a U.S. citizen and over the age of 18.

A ballot form.

If you have not requested your absentee ballot, I would urge you to do so. The process is easy. You can print and fill in a PDF version of the request here, or you can fill in the request online at www.FVAP.gov.  Once you’re on the website, click on the “Get Started” icon (as indicated by the red arrow below).

Register to vote now!

From there you will be taken to a map of the United States where you will need to click on the State of your residence.  Generally, this will be the State in which you last voted or resided before moving overseas.  For illustration purposes, I will select my own home State of California.

Register to vote now!

You will then be taken to a screen that will give you the option to register to vote (if this is your first time), request your absentee ballot (if you are already registered), or check on the status of your ballot.  Please select the icon that best fits your circumstances.  For the purposes of this blog, I will mark Register to Vote and/or Request Ballot (as indicated by the red arrow below).

Register to vote now!

You will then be taken to a page that contains links to your State’s election website, voter-specific information, and an automated wizard program.  If you choose to click on the wizard icon, you will be taken through a step-by-step program that will result in a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) that you can then mail in to get your absentee ballot.

Once you finish with the wizard program, you will receive two PDF documents.  The first will be a completed FPCA form, as well as instructions on submitting it.  The second will be a mailing envelope that you can print onto a U.S. standard #10 envelope (4 1/8″ x 9 1/2″).

As the postage has already been paid, so all you need to do is put the FPCA into the envelope and drop the letter off at the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland or the Embassy in Wellington, and we’ll mail it back to the U.S. for you.  If you rather mail the FPCA yourself through the New Zealand or Samoa mail system, that is fine too.

Please Keep In Mind the Following Points:

1. To vote, new laws require you to complete and submit a FPCA this calendar year.

2. In filling out your FPCA, you have the right to request that your ballot be sent to you via e-mail or fax.

3. If you have never lived in the United States and want to determine if you can vote please go to the following website: http://www.fvap.gov/reference/nvr-res.htm.

4. If you have not submitted an FPCA by October 1st, you may still be able to vote by casting a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  Please follow your state’s specific instructions that can be found at www.fvap.gov.

5. For your convenience, I have attached PDF copies of the FPCA and FWAB.  Please feel free to print them out and fill in the appropriate one by hand if you don’t want to use the website directly.

The  U.S. Consulate General in Auckland stands ready to help you with all your voting needs.  If you have any questions, please contact us at  +64 9 303 2724 ext. 2842/2848/2856 or at VoteAuckland@state.gov.