Can You Vote If You Live Abroad? U.S. Citizens Can Still Make Their Voices Heard

I'm going to be honest with you: even now, voting perplexes me. The rules, the deadlines, the stipulations — it's all very intimidating, official, and, let's be real, a little scary. There's a lot of power that comes with voting, and with great power comes great responsibility. As you get older, the voting process becomes even more complicated, opening your world up to questions like can you even vote if you're abroad? If you can't vote the normal, old fashioned way — which typically includes going back to your elementary school gym in order to cast your ballot — you have to be on top of your game. That goes double if you're out of town or out of the country. You need to make your voice heard, and that means doing your research.

As it turns out, you most certainly can vote if you're abroad. According to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, "Almost all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to vote absentee for candidates for federal offices in U.S. primary and general elections." The catch? Well, there isn't one really, as long as you follow the "absentee voting basics" that the US Dept. of State lists, which includes requesting every year to receive an absentee ballot.

Those basics are that you "send in a completed Federal Post Card Application to your local election officials" each year and that you send in your absentee ballot by your voting state's "ballot return deadline."

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In fact, as long as you got everything in on time, voting abroad is actually a lot less complicated and more flexible than you'd probably imagine it'd be. The U.S. Dept. of State even says as much on their site. They explain that absentee voters can vote by way of local mail, U.S. Embassy Pouch, fax, email, internet, or Express Courier Services. The only thing a voter abroad needs to make sure of is the specific guideline that state in which they are voting has for receiving and casting absentee votes. Specifically, they explain that, "Depending on the state in which you are eligible to vote, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download."

So, not only can you vote if you're abroad, but you have a plethora of options on how you can do so. Make sure that your voice is heard even if you are far away, and, for more information on absentee voting, visit the U.S. Department of State's U.S. Passports & International Travel site on their Overseas Voting page.

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