Earlier this week, Mr. and Mrs. Crab received their absentee ballots by email for the Nov. 4 elections in Arlington County, Virginia. Of course the whole world knows we will be electing a new U.S. President this year. Readers might be surprised to see that there are six political parties on the ballot seeking the White House, including some little-known parties (The Independent Green Party!?!?!) There's also a space for a write-in vote. (Click on the photo for a full-sized version)
In addition to the Prez, we'll also be voting for a U.S. Senator and a congressman for the House of Representatives' 8th Congressional District. Finally there are several local elections for a county board member, a school board member and a handful of referendum questions that are essentially Arlington residents for permission for the county to go into debt to fund such improvement projects as Metro, schools and sewers.
American expats have only a few days left to register to vote from abroad. The deadline varies state by state: For example, in Virginia, the deadline is Monday, Oct 6. California has one of the longest deadlines on Oct. 20.
Chatting with fellow expats, I'm surprised at all the misconceptions surrounding American citizens' right to vote from abroad. Some people seem to think they aren't eligible to vote, or think its difficult, costly or time consuming.
For the record: Any U.S. citizen living abroad has the right to vote, providing you are 18 years old and not convicted of a felony. There is no cost, apart from the postage to mail back your ballot. There is no priordomestic voting experience required. Even if you are 99 years old, have never voted in your entire life and have never lived stateside, you can still vote in the Nov. 4 election, provided you hold U.S. citizenship.
Another widely-held misconception is the belief that you need a mailing address in the United States: You do NOT need to hold a residence or mailing address in the USA in order to vote. Repeat: YOU DO NOT NEED A U.S. ADDRESS IN ORDER TO VOTE FROM ABROAD! Your state of record and congressional district will be the last address where you lived in the United States. In the case of citizens who have never lived in America -- such as children of US citizens living abroad -- your home of record will most likely be the last address where your parents lived.
Voting from abroad is relatively simple and painless. The most direct way to vote is to contact your home district's election board. If you're not sure where your home district is, then start here:
Overseas Vote Foundation: This is the best and easiest website for registering to vote from abroad. The website will ask you a few simple questions to determine your eligibility and your voting jurisdiction.
A few other resources:
Federal Voting Assistance Program (Originally aimed at U.S. military but now open to all American expats).
VoteFromAbroad.org (operated by the Democratic Party)
Republicans Abroad (Run by the Republican Party)
USA.gov (another government portal)
Now, you have no excuse. Go and exercise your right to vote TODAY!!!