While the US general elections only happen on November 7, it’s time for the American citizen living in Brazil or any other place overseas for that matter to begin the voting process.
Americans will be electing 33 of the 100 senators, representatives (all of the 435 seats in the House), 36 state governors, besides other officials in state and local races.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) helps overseas voters participate in federal, state, and local elections. Voting while overseas is easy, but requires a little more advanced planning that voting in the United States.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) has an excellent website – www.fvap.gov – with all the information you need to make your vote count.
The absentee voting process is simple:
First: Check the above website for your state’s specific voting rules. Failure to meet certain deadlines may mean your ballot won’t be counted.
Second: Register to vote in your state of legal residence by carefully filling out a Federal Postcard Application which can be downloaded at www.fvap.gov/pubs/onlinefpca.html.
State specific instructions for completing and submitting the application are also online. Please read your state’s information carefully as instructions do vary by state. Omissions, errors, illegibility, and failure to sign the application can cause delays.
Third: Local election officials will process the application, and after determining eligibility, will mail an absentee ballot.
Fourth: When you receive your ballot, make your choice and return it to your local election officials.
What if the ballot doesn’t arrive in time? Federal law allows voters to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as an emergency "backup" ballot for citizens covered by the UOCAVA.
Although federal law mandates in acceptance for only federal elections, some states have expanded its use in other elections. FVAP recommends that you submit an absentee ballot if you do not receive your regular ballot 25 days before the election. The absentee ballot can be downloaded from www.fvap.gov.
Want some more information? Try
Democrats Abroad: email@example.com – www.democratsabroad.org. Democrats Abroad have a user-friendly page to request your absentee ballot.
Republicans Abroad: www.republicansabroad.org
The American Society of São Paulo: www.amsoc.com.br.
Andrew Witherspoon is the Vice Consul at the US Consulate General in São Paulo, Brazil.