VAG: Make your Queer Voice Heard Around the Globe!
Hey, you! Are you an American exchange student living the dream in Europe? Are you serving our country overseas? Are you teaching English in Korea? Are you an American expat living in South Africa or Canada or Australia? (If that last one – call me, we should hang out.)
Did you know that you can vote in US elections from abroad?
Our constitutional rights to vote don’t go away when we wave goodbye to the US border for an extended period of time. That means that you can cast your vote for someone who respects queer folk! Say, our current incumbent president? Or maybe you could help vote out a homophobic Congressperson who is embarrassing your home state?
If you want to do this, you’d better move quickly. The deadline for requesting a ballot in North Dakota has already passed (see more below about what to do if you’re from North Dakota) and Nevada and South Carolina must be registered by October 6. (To determine your voting state and district, use your last address in the US or, if you’re already registered to vote, the last address you were registered to vote from.) Other state deadlines are looming, so check check for your state’s deadline ASAP!
State laws vary widely in how to register and request your ballot from outside the country. Luckily for us, though, there are a lot of people who want to make it easy for you to vote from overseas. The US government’s Federal Voting Assistance Program is dedicated to helping US citizens who live in other countries exercise their voting rights. Democrats Abroad also runs a website that helps you get registration and a ballot. Both sites have wizards that walk you through the process. Super easy!
Depending on where you used to live, your ballot may be delivered by postal mail or by email. In Whatcom County, Washington State, which is where the wife and I are registered, you can choose one or the other. I receive my ballot by post and she gets hers by email. She’s already received her ballot, while I’m still waiting for mine. If you get your ballot through the mail, you’ll need to put an international stamp on it, drop it off at a consulate/embassy or put it through Armed Services mail. Your auditor’s office will send you specific instructions.
Some states will send you a shortened ballot that only includes federal offices, while others (including Washington) will just send you the full ballot. (Which means I can vote yes on R-74 like all you queer Washingtonians should be doing! Hooray!)
But wait, you say! My last voting address was in North Dakota, or I’m reading this late and my state’s deadline has already passed! Never fear, you still have options so long as you’re already registered to vote. Go download a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Print it, write in your preferred candidates, then slap a postcard stamp on it and put it in the mail to the auditor’s office where you were last registered to vote. Too easy! This ballot will only let you vote for President and Senator, but that’s better than nothing.
So even if you live in Reykjavik or Warsaw or Tokyo or Sydney, you can still make your voice heard in the United States. Isn’t that great?