It’s an election year in the United States and your vote matters. Here’s how to ensure your vote gets counted no matter where you land during your study abroad adventure:
Well before your bags are packed, you should know where you stand on important policies and candidates. Even though you’re focused on learning the language of your host country, try to keep up with the election so you can make an informed decision before you leave.
REGISTER TO VOTE
If you’re not already registered to vote, or you need to check your registration status, visit the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). In most states, you must be registered before you can vote.
REQUEST YOUR BALLOT
Each state has different deadlines surrounding absentee ballots, so check yours and plan accordingly. At least 45 days before the elections, you should request your absentee ballot with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Either online or by mail, you’ll need to fill out a form, provide a residential address abroad, sign, and return. You also have the option of heading to the U.S. Embassy while abroad to complete the FPCA. Remember – you’ll need your Social Security Number (SSN) and a valid driver’s license to complete the form.
Every vote counts – be sure yours is represented! Complete and return your ballot. Many states allow you to return your ballot electronically, or you can drop it off at the U.S. Embassy for return to the United States (do so early!). For more information on your state’s requirements, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).
Being abroad during an important election is a great opportunity for intercultural learning – take it all in! How is election news being reported? What are locals saying about the results? How does it feel to watch the news from afar? Is your patriotism soaring or souring? Keep a journal – experiencing an election abroad is undoubtedly something you’ll want to remember for a lifetime!