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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

US Voters: These midterms matter – here’s how to request your ballot

Across Europe there are many Americans living and working, enjoying the lifestyle, sights and culture that their adopted home has to offer. However, things don’t stand still back in the United States.

US Voters: These midterms matter - here's how to request your ballot
It's never been easier to request your overseas ballot. Photo: Getty Images

The US is only months away from the 2022 midterm elections, and for US citizens abroad, voting is easier than you think. Here’s how to have a say in the future of your hometown, state and country.

What are the midterms, and why do they matter?

Unlike the Presidential elections, the midterm elections determine state representation in Congress and a number of state-level offices – this year all of the seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, 36 state governors and 30 state attorney generals will be elected by the people. 

The results of the midterms can have a large impact on the make-up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, changing the kinds of laws the governing administration is able to pass in the next two (the term of a representative) to six (the term of a senator) years.

As we have seen in the news recently, such laws can have significant implications for the rights of friends and family in the United States. 

This year, the US midterm elections are held on the 8th of November. 

For U.S. citizens living overseas who want to have a say in the future of their hometown, city and state, it is important to know how to navigate the absentee voting process for midterm elections. 

However, voter turnout from overseas is traditionally very low. According to the 2018 Overseas Citizen Population Analysis Report, only 13.9% of eligible voters from Germany participated in the last midterm elections, while in France, only 4.9% voted. 

U.S. citizens abroad who did not return a voted ballot reported having difficulties completing the process, or not being able to get their ballot in time to vote. We’re breaking down the absentee voting process into two, straightforward steps you can follow to make sure you have plenty of time to send your ballot back to the States — no matter where you’re voting from.

The 2022 midterm elections are approaching – time to request your absentee ballot.

Requesting your online ballot only takes minutes. PhotoL Supplied

How can I vote in the midterms from overseas?

Whereas many Americans located in the United States only need to show up on Election Day to cast their vote, the process begins earlier for U.S. citizens living abroad. As voting for American citizens abroad is largely conducted via post, the process has checks and balances to ensure the security and integrity of the vote, which means that you need to begin the process far in advance. 

Your first step should be to visit the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, to start the process of registering to vote and requesting your absentee ballot. 

“It’s incredibly easy to vote absentee (and I would argue even easier than voting in person). The city clerk of the last US town you lived in is your lifeline. Mine even emailed me a few weeks back reminding me to register to vote for the upcoming elections this fall.”   – Hannah Houseworth, Michigan, now in France

Their Online Assistant will help you through the process of registering, if you are not already, and filling out your ballot request, or Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)– which takes around two minutes to complete. When filling out the form, you can select the option to receive your blank ballot electronically to speed up the process.

From there, you’ll send your FPCA to your state’s election office by mail, fax or even email, depending on your state’s submission guidelines. FVAP recommends submitting your FPCA by the 1st of August.

If you would like further reminders and tips on absentee voting, you can sign up for email alerts here

Select your state to see specific guidelines and deadlines for absentee voting forms.

No matter where they are in the world, U.S. citizens can vote absentee in midterm elections. Photo: Getty Images 

The second step is to vote as soon as your blank ballot arrives. If you chose to receive your ballot electronically via the FPCA, you should receive it the day ballots are sent by your state’s election office: the 24th of September.  FVAP recommends U.S. citizens living overseas send their voted ballots back by the 24th of October to ensure your election office receives them in time. 

What is my voting residence? 

Your voting residence is the last address you had in the United States immediately prior to leaving for overseas. More information can be found here

“Easy-peazy. California sends me an email telling me my ballot’s on its way, I receive my ballot and voter guide via snail mail, I send the ballot back, and I get an email confirmation when they’ve received and counted it.

In-between all of that, I get friendly reminders from the state reminding me to send my ballot.” – Sarah Saromanos, California, now in France

Is voting by mail from overseas safe and secure?

Voting by mail from overseas is extremely secure, and upon receiving your ballot, there are a number of security measures undertaken not only to protect your vote but to ensure that it matches your identity. 

Furthermore, none of your personal information is saved while using FVAP’s Online Assistant to request an absentee ballot. You can be sure that you are not sharing your private data with any third parties at any point in the process. 

Voting this November is not only secure but there are a number of resources available to help you every step of the way. 

Get started today. Register and request your absentee ballot to vote in US midterm elections with the FPCA.

Member comments

  1. Maybe someone can answer this question. I have lived in Germany for 4 years. I am paid in euro and pay German taxes. I have no income in the US. I don’t want to have to deal with my old state of which I have no relationship with anymore. I also don’t follow their local politics. What happens if I vote using my old address? Will they start to treat me like I live there still? All of my personal mail in the US is sent to my sister’s house in another state but I have never lived there. It is all very confusing.

  2. If you don’t have any property there, I think you are ok (but I’m not a lawyer). To be safe, I vote in Federal elections, but not State or local. Then, there will not be any tax consequences from voting. You have to file a Federal tax return in any case, and I do.

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ANGELA MERKEL

‘Furious and saddened’: Merkel joins German politicians in calling out US Capitol mob

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock on Thursday over the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump and said the president shared blame for the unrest.

'Furious and saddened': Merkel joins German politicians in calling out US Capitol mob
Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, and tried to break through a police barrier. Photo: DPA

“I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded his defeat, since November and again yesterday,” Merkel said, adding she was “furious and saddened.”

“Doubts about the election outcome were stoked and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible,” she said, adding that her shock was certainly shared by the “millions of people who admire America's democratic tradition”.

Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the seat of the US parliament, on Wednesday to protest the certification of presidential election results after a fiery speech by the Republican falsely claiming the November win of Democrat Joe Biden was fraudulent. 

READ ALSO: German-US alliance 'on life support' after four years of Trump

Both chambers of Congress had to suspend their sessions, parliamentary halls were evacuated and members of parliament were taken to safety. One woman, reported to be a civilian, was killed in the riots for initial unclear reasons.

Merkel welcomed a statement by President-elect Joe Biden as well as “many reactions from both major parties of the US” which she said reassured her “that this democracy will prove to be much stronger than the attackers and rioters”.

She lamented the “tragic” loss of life in the chaotic scenes but said the fact that lawmakers had returned to work overnight was a “sign of hope”.

“Now it is clear with the confirmation of the election victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the United States of America will, as it should, in less than two weeks open a new chapter of its democracy,” she said.

“That means the forces of democracy have prevailed — that is something I always knew about the United States and expected.”

But she warned that the “disturbing” images from the Capitol would be seen “in other places around the world (as) not exactly a badge of good democratic processes”.

Merkel speaking in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

“It is thus all the more important that the democrats prevailed,” she said.

On early Thursday morning, shaken members of Congress returned to certify Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win.

READ ALSO: 'The world may respect us more': How Americans in Germany reacted to US elections

'Unbearable attack on democracy'

Following the onslaught of violent protesters in the Capitol, several top German politicians and media expressed their disbelief and disgust.

“We came to realise how vulnerable even the oldest and most powerful democracy in the world is,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday called on supporters of President Donald Trump to “stop trampling on democracy” after they stormed the US Capitol building in anger over his election defeat.

“Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of American voters and stop trampling on democracy,” Maas tweeted.

“The enemies of democracy will be pleased to see these incredible images from Washington DC,” he added. “Inflammatory words turn into violent actions.”

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is also the vice chancellor, likewise condemned the “disturbing images” from Washington.

“The peaceful transfer of power is the cornerstone of every democracy. A lesson once taught to the world by the USA. It is a disgrace that Trump is undermining it by inciting violence and destruction,” he tweeted.

Joe Biden, who beat Trump in November's election “has a tough job ahead to bring Americans back together again,” Scholz wrote.

Ursula van der Leyen, the German head of the European Commission, tweeted that “I believe in the strength of US institutions and democracy. Peaceful transition of power is at the core”

Several German media outlets expressed their outrage at the images they saw from the US, saying they more closely resemble those they have only seen elsewhere in the world.

The images “recall the scenario of a military coup or a Banana Republic gone off the rails,” wrote the Berliner Morgenpost.

It added that “Trump carries the blame” for inciting the violence and hatred which broke out.

Spiegel Online wrote that “every additional day with Trump in power damages the US,” adding that Trump has especially hurt the US and democratic values in his “last, darkest time in the presidency”.


 

 

 

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