In order to vote in the November 2020 elections, all overseas U.S. citizens need to have completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2020. Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must complete an FPCA each year to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.
To make this process easier for you, U.S. Embassy Bujumbura is accepting completed Federal Post Card Applications (FPCA) for mailing to the United States via diplomatic pouch free of charge.
In addition, the consular office is always happy to provide general voting assistance information via email or by scheduling a time via BujumburaC@state.gov to speak on the phone.
Registering to vote and submitting a ballot is fast, easy, and can be done from anywhere in the world!
Follow these few simple steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections:
- Register to vote: Start by confirming your voter registration with your state. Some states require absentee voters to register annually, so you may need to re-register. Go to FVAP.gov to connect to your state’s voter portal to register to vote, request a ballot, and more.
- Request Your Ballot: Most states provide the option to request ballots through their state election portals, which you can easily access via FVAP.gov. You can also choose to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives), including primaries and special elections, during the calendar year in which it is submitted. FPCA forms that are correctly filled out and include a signature and date are accepted by all local election officials in every U.S. state and territory. FVAP’s easy online assistant can assist you with completing the FPCA.
Whether you request your ballot through your state’s portal or the FPCA, we encourage you to select the option to receive your ballot electronically (by email, internet download, or fax) when available. This is the fastest way to get your ballot and ensures you have it in time to return a completed form before your state’s deadline.
- Receive and Complete Your Ballot: States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office, and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. Most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online.
- Return Your Completed, Signed Ballot: Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or through U.S. Embassy Bujumbura’s diplomatic pouch. The diplomatic pouch provides free mail service from embassies and consulates to a U.S. sorting facility. You will need to place your ballots in postage-paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient U.S. postage, for them to be delivered to the proper local election authorities once received by the U.S. sorting facility.
If you plan to use the diplomatic pouch, the consular section will have a physical box to accept completed ballot located outside the main embassy entrance near the state police post. You can stop to drop off your completed ballot addressed to your local election office any time 24/7. When dropping off your completed ballot, please bring only your passport. Digital devices, such as phones, are prohibited inside Embassy premises.
Alternatively, you can choose, at your own expense, through international mail or professional courier service, to deliver your ballot to the United States. The Embassy will not be responsible for any charges that you incur if you choose this alternate option.
Please note that all visitors to the Embassy are subject to security screening and you will not be permitted to bring electronic devices, including cell phones, inside the facility. It can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by an embassy or consulate via diplomatic pouch. All overseas U.S. citizens are advised to submit their forms and ballots accordingly. Ballots will be received and forwarded whenever submitted, but you may want to consider using a courier service if submitting your ballot close to or within four weeks of elections.
Researching the Candidates and Issues: Online Resources. Go to the FVAP links page for helpful resources to aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online or search the internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (email@example.com). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook (@DODFVAP), Twitter (@FVAP), and Instagram (@fvapgov).
Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov. If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact U.S. Embassy Bujumbura’s Voting Assistance Officer at BujumburaC@state.gov
Remember, your vote counts!