September 18, 2008
The U.S. Presidential election will occur on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. The candidates are Barack Obama (with Joe Biden for Vice President) and John McCain (with Sarah Palin for Vice President).
This blog entry is intended to provide Americans living overseas a with a small nudge and a roadmap to learn how to vote absentee while they are living abroad.
CLICK HERE to go directly to the link from the State Department with information about how to vote from abroad. 2008 Absentee Voting Information for Americans Abroad.
I think it is important that you know, if you are an American living overseas, that you are still entitled to vote in federal elections no matter how long you have lived overseas. For purposes of federal elections, you are considered to be a resident of your last state of residence, even if you have moved and no longer own property in that state, even if you do not plan to move back to that state, and even if you do not pay tax there.
The web page linked above gives instructions for getting and sending in a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) for voter registration.
The FPCA can be obtained at and printed from this link: FPCA
As a general rule, the FPCA should be mailed so that it arrives at the Board of Registration 45 days in advance of the election in which you plan to vote. FORTY FIVE DAYS! That means that (ideally) your completed application needs to arrive just two days from now! If the deadline has already passed by the time you read this, go ahead and send in that postcard anyway! It may be that you could get registered, but even if you miss the deadline for this cycle you would be in it for the next. (I note however that they do recommend re-filing every year.)
If you have any questions, pop by or call your local Consulate. Every Consulate has Voting Assistance Officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas. During the last election, the Consular Officers in Guangzhou assisted me in sending in my FPCA. They also collected absentee ballots and sent them in for us. I found them very helpful and friendly. The process was "hassle free"!
Just one reminder. When you go to visit your Consulate in person, be sure to take your passport with you, or you will not be able to be admitted to the American Citizens Services Unit. Also, call ahead of time to ascertain the working hours. In Guangzhou, the phone number for the Consulate is (area code 20) 8518-7651. The American Citizens Services Unit is located at 5th floor, 2nd annex of Tianyu Garden, 136-142, Linhe Zhong Rd., Guangzhou, P. R. China 510133. For those of you know Guangzhou, this is one block before you get to Ikea, on the right hand side. If you’re not sure how to get there, get the Consulate receptionist to tell one of your Chinese friends how to get there, and have your Chinese friend write the address on a paper that you can give the taxi driver.