The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) guarantees United States citizens overseas the right to vote in federal elections in the United States. (Federal elections include primaries, general and special elections for the president, vice president, U.S. senators and U.S. representatives to Congress.) The UOCAVA applies only to federal elections. However, many states in the United States have enacted legislation whereby certain categories of citizens residing overseas can vote by absentee ballot for state or local officials. The same procedures for obtaining local election ballots are used for obtaining federal election ballots.
Determining Voting Residence
In order to vote in either federal or state elections in the United States, most states require citizens residing abroad to register in the state of his or her "voting residence." A voting residence is the legal residence or domicile in which the voter could vote if present in that state. Military and merchant marine members, their spouses and dependents may register to vote in the domicile (state) that the member claims as his or her residence. Civilian U.S. government employees overseas, their spouses and dependents, will generally register in the state they claim as their legal residence. In accordance with the UOCAVA, overseas citizens (not affiliated with the U.S. government), must vote in their last state of residence immediately prior to departure from the United States. This applies even if many years have elapsed and the voter maintains no abode nor has any intention of returning to that state.
Applying for the Ballot
The consulate does not supply voting ballots. You cannot vote at the consulate. You must request your absentee ballot using a form known as the FPCA - Federal Post Card Application well in advance of the election day. The instructions for completing the form in accordance with your state's requirements are available from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website www.fvap.gov or from the consulate. If you are requesting the FPCA from the consulate, please also request the voting instructions for your state of residence and the number of FPCA's your household requires.
If you have a facebook account, click here to view the Facebook page for the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).
Citizens Eligible to Vote
What do I do with the FPCA?
Fill out the FPCA using the instructions from the FVAP website or the example attached to the postcard. If you have questions about the instructions or if you need to know the address of the official to whom to address the postcard (e.g. the county clerk, board of elections, registrar of voters, etc.), consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program website www.fvap.gov or e-mail the Voting Assistant at the consulate for assistance at VoteHamilton@state.gov.
In some cases the FPCA must be notarized before an American consular officer or notary public abroad. The consulate can assist you with this service during the hours of 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays only. Please bring the FPCA along with your passport; this service is free of charge. Only after the FPCA is fully executed and received by the county voting election officials will you receive an official absentee ballot in the mail.
If you mail your FPCA through the Bermuda mail system, you must place the appropriate airmail postage on it. Please mail the FPCA to the address shown in the state instructions. Alternatively, you may drop off the FPCA to the consulate and we will send it in via diplomatic pouch mail provided that your FPCA states "U.S. Postage Paid" and is addressed appropriately. The hours for drop offs are Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (except for holidays) at the consulate guard building. Please note: sending your request via pouch mail could take up to one month to get to its destination! Also, check the instructions for your state as some states now allow you to fax or e-mail in your voting information.
Will I incur tax liability by registering to vote?
Federal law provides that no tax liability may be imposed based on exercising your right to vote in federal elections e.g., the president, vice president, U.S. senators and U.S. representatives to Congress. If you are a civilian citizen residing outside the U.S. and wish to avoid classifying yourself as a state resident for tax purposes, you should check "A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.indefinately" item 1(c) on the FPCA. You will normally receive a federal ballot only. If the state sends you a full ballot because it does not print a separate federal ballot, you may vote the full ballot without incurring a tax liability.
Note: Some applications for ballots or the ballots themselves will ask whether you want to vote for state officials up for election, e.g. candidates for governor, candidates for the state legislatures. The law only covers federal officials. If you decide to vote for state officials, some states may find that your actions in registering to vote for state officials or actually voting for state officials will allow the particular state to consider voting as a factor in determining tax domicile. Before voting for state officials consult the Federal Voting Assistance Program website that lists the states operating in this manner.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot
Under certain circumstances overseas voters may be eligible to use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to vote in federal elections. The FWAB may be used only for general elections and is a backup for voters who expect to be able to use the regular absentee ballot from their state or territory and requested that ballot in time to vote and return it. The FWAB must be received by the local election official no later than the deadline for receipt of regular absentee ballots under state law. The FWAB is to be used to assist those voters who would be disenfranchised through no fault of their own and is not designed as a replacement for the regular state ballot. It is valid only when the state ballot has been requested and not received. If applicable, you may pick up a FWAB during the ACS service hours. Please book an on-line appointment to do so. If or when you receive your official ballot please mark your ballot and return.
Denial of Right to Vote
Any person who believes that he or she has been wrongfully denied the right to vote should follow the procedures outlined in the Voting Assistance Guide. Alternatively, contact the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20520