Among my core beliefs is that with rights come responsibilities. With the freedom to choose comes the obligation to choose rather than sit back and rely on other folks to do your choosing for you. So, apropos of the season, I suggest the following:

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If you are an American citizen living abroad and haven’t yet made arrangements to vote, take a look today at www.FVAP.gov. It’s a very user-friendly website and quickly walks you through the steps necessary to get your ballot. If you are already registered to vote, the process is straightforward. (If you’ve never before registered to vote, there is some complexity because the deadlines for registering in certain States may have already passed.)

Keep in mind that votes in the next election get counted only about 10 days from now — on Tuesday, Nov. 6th — and that certain States require that you request your ballot by October 30th. So, you need to attend now to the mechanics of fulfilling your civic duty and exercising your right to speak and choose.

If the deadline has passed to get your State ballot, you can still vote by means of the Federal Write-in-Absentee Ballot, which you can print from www.FVAP.gov. If you encounter a problem, don’t give up or procrastinate further. Instead, contact our Auckland-based Voting Assistance Officer at (64) 9-303-2724 x 2800 or by email at VoteAuckland@state.gov.

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So, at this late date how will you get your ballot back to the U.S. in time for certain States’ ballot receipt deadlines? First, you can determine at www.FVAP.gov if your State is one of those that allows you to return your ballot by email or fax.

If emailing or faxing is not an option, you can seal your ballot in an envelope addressed to the appropriate State election address with domestic U.S. postage affixed or prepaid, and drop the envelope at the Consulate or Embassy in person (do NOT mail it to us). If you get the envelope to us before the end of October, we can tuck it into our regular pouch back to DC, where it will be mailed for you.

You can also take advantage of Fed Ex’s discounted shipping for last-minute voters in New Zealand (available through October 31st). For more information about the Fed Ex service please see Express Your Vote.

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Many people fought and died to establish the right to vote in America. When you vote, you honor their memory and validate their sacrifice. You also strengthen the democracy that they founded and that others struggled and died to extend, improve, and preserve. Your vote is precious, and it matters even if it does not by itself change the result of a particular contest.

Those who say one vote doesn’t matter are simply missing the point. Vote. It’s your right and your responsibility.