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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

Can you guess how many Americans abroad voted in the last US midterms?

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.

Can you guess how many Americans abroad voted in the last US midterms?
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. Thank you for sharing this important information! I hope a much larger percentage of eligible Americans in Frace will vote in the midterms.

  3. 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.

  4. I’m now a permanent resident of France. Unfortunately I’m a U.S. citizen so I’ll have to pay taxes to the IRS as long as I live. A lot of the tax money is used to fund the endless U.S. wars. Taking care of its citizens have never been a priority. Funny thing is that my U.S. tax return contains 110 pages while my French tax return was only five pages. I will never vote in a U.S. election again. It’s a waste of time!

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POLITICS

‘Reforms needed urgently’: Is Austria becoming more corrupt?

Austria has dropped in Transparency International's 'Corruption Perceptions Index', slipping to the 22nd spot. But is there corruption in the Alpine Republic?

'Reforms needed urgently': Is Austria becoming more corrupt?

Austria continues on a downward trend in Transparency International’s “Corruption Perceptions Index”, receiving 71 out of 100 points, three less than in 2021.

The country slipped further down in the rankings to the 22nd spot, failing to make the top 20 for the first time since 2014.

In the latest 2022 index, Austria ranks between France and Seychelles. It is followed by the United States, Butan and Taiwan. As in previous years, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand and Norway top the table.

“Last year, Austria was still ranked 13th, and now we are all being presented with the bill for the fact that political decision-makers have been very hesitant, if at all, in tackling anti-corruption measures,” said Eva Geiblinger, Chair of TI Austria’s Board of Directors, according to ORF.

‘Political turbulence and the rule of law challenges’

According to Transparency International, Austria lost ground on the index after a period of political turbulence and what it called “rule of law challenges”, a reference to the country’s seemingly lenient (or non-existent) laws to prevent and fight corruption.

It’s hard to point to one instance that would justify the “political turbulence”, as many would argue that there has been an extended period of turbulence ever since 2019, when the infamous Ibizagate video surfaced, bringing down the ÖVP-FPÖ (centre-right and far-right) ruling coalition.

The video, recorded in 2017 on the Spanish island of Ibiza, showed the leader of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) apparently offering public contracts in return for campaign help and good media coverage. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Austria’s ‘Ibiza-gate’ video 

The striking images show a politician (who, by 2019, was vice-chancellor of Austria) seemingly arrogantly suggesting that a woman pretending to be the niece of a Russian oligarch might take control of the Kronen Zeitung, Austria’s largest-circulation tabloid and use it to help FPÖ’s campaign.

In return, Strache said he would arrange for public construction tenders currently awarded to Austrian giant Strabag to be given to her instead. He dismissively suggests a scheme to avoid legal scrutiny by using FPÖ-linked foundations to receive “donations”. 

The video is not the first instance of corruption in Austria, but it does highlight some of the country’s “most popular” forms of corruption: nepotism, the unethical relationship between politics and tabloid media, and bribery, particularly using the foundations known as Verein

Ibizagate repercussions

The scandal has been known as the “Ibizagate”, which had immediate and long-term consequences. It brought down the ÖVP-FPÖ ruling coalition and put the far-right party in the opposition for years – Strache also left the FPÖ and his comeback stint through his own political party failed.

The People’s Party ÖVP survived the scandal (then) and chancellor Sebastian Kurz won the following elections, forming a coalition government with the Green party. However, the scandal’s repercussions are still ongoing, creating years of “political turbulence” in Austria.

READ ALSO: Corruption in Austria: Why has ORF’s editor-in-chief resigned?

Investigations concerning the statements made in the infamous video led to findings on the smartphones of politicians of a high level, bringing several new police operations. 

Austria’s former Vice-Chancellor and disgraced former leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache gives his private statement in Vienna, Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

From then, chat conversations between ÖVP leading politicians revealed improper relations between political leaders and their friends (scandals involving bribes), their colleagues (scandals involving political appointments) and the media (scandals involving bought and edited polls to favour specific candidates) – to mention a few.

READ ALSO: Why is support for Austria’s far-right FPÖ rising?

Finally, allegations led to the resignation of once Wunderkind Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), and the People’s Party has lost much of its popular support after each political scandal involving its members. Now, the country is led by Karl Nehammer (ÖVP), who trails in popularity polls.

Even in 2023, investigations are ongoing and new scandals, allegations and accusations might surface.

READ ALSO: 

Reforms urgently needed

Austria has also dropped in the rankings due to its failure to combat corruption due to its lenient laws and regulations. Earlier this year, a report of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) attests to Austria’s gross deficiencies in the fight against and prevention of corruption, as The Local reported.

Among other things, the report criticised a lack of transparency and political influence in appointments to law enforcement positions.

The group looked at corruption prevention in government and found that increased attention needs to be paid to the analysis of risk factors for corruption around the highest political officials such as chancellors, vice-chancellors, ministers, secretaries of state and general and cabinet staff.

READ ALSO: Energy, corruption, labour shortage: Austria’s plans to face its major challenges

GRECO recommended disclosing the financial circumstances of relatives and partners of these top political figures, although this “does not necessarily have to be made public”. Additionally, transparency is needed when appointing general secretaries, the report added.

Greco slams that major legislative projects such as the Transparency Act, intended to abolish official secrecy, or the reform of the criminal law on corruption, have been delayed – although the latter will now be approved.

It said that the prevention of conflicts of interest is a challenge that requires increased attention.

In its report, Transparency International stated that Austria’s government “urgently needs to move ahead with reforms to increase lobbying transparency and freedom of information”

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