September 24, 2012
As election time approaches, many Americans ask for advice on overseas voting. The most important steps are to a) register and b) request an absentee ballot. The easiest and fastest way to accomplish this is to go to the website for the Federal Voting Assistance Program. If the link does not work, simply enter “www.fvap.gov” into your browser. The application will display two choices, one for military personnel stationed overseas and one for U.S. Citizens living overseas. Click on the appropriate “Get Started” button and follow the prompts. Once you complete the process, you should receive your ballot.
Note that each state has its own requirements and, if you fail to follow them completely, your election officials may discard your vote. Pay close attention to your state’s voting requirements, especially registration, voting procedures and deadlines. People who have lived overseas for an extended period frequently ask in which state they should register. If you do not currently have a U.S. address, use your most recent address as the appropriate state. If you have never lived in the U.S., use your parent’s address as the appropriate state. Do not have your ballot sent to Consulate General Merida. The Consulate cannot accept personal mail, including ballots.
Once you have completed your ballot, you may bring it to Consulate General Merida for delivery to the U.S. Unless you use the postage free envelope that many states provide, you must apply the appropriate U.S. domestic postage. You can purchase U.S. postage online; it is not available in Merida. The Consulate will accept ballots between 8:00AM and 12:00 noon, Monday through Friday. You do not need an appointment. It will take two to three weeks for your ballot to reach the United States address, so please plan ahead.
If you live on the Riviera Maya, you may deliver your ballot to one of the Consular Agencies in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Cozumel. We strongly advise you to check office hours and make an appointment with the appropriate Consular Agency. It will take three to four weeks for the ballot to reach the United States destination.
If you do not receive your ballot within 45 days of your state’s voting deadline, you may go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program webpage and print the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). This ballot requires the voter to write in the names of the voter’s preferred federal candidates. Some, but not all, states accept the FWAB for state officials but, again, the voter must write in the candidates’ names.
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