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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

November US midterms: Your voting questions answered

The November midterm elections are almost here and if you're a US citizen, you need to register and request a ballot to vote.

November US midterms: Your voting questions answered
Did you know that some US states allow you to submit your ballot electronically? Graphic: FVAP.gov

Recently The Local held an online poll to ask our American readers about their obstacles to voting absentee from abroad.

In partnership with the Federal Voting Assistance Program, we address some of the most common concerns that were identified.  

What am I voting for on November 8th? 

When we polled our readers, 15 percent of them said they ‘didn’t feel motivated to vote’. However, the midterms involve a great deal of change. As we noted in our last piece, in November 2022 all the seats in the US House of Representatives are up for election, in addition to a third of the Senate. Additionally, 36 state governors will be elected, as well as 30 state attorney-generals. 

These are all positions with the legislative power to make important decisions on a local, state or federal level. Those that are elected will play a real role in shaping what the future looks like for all of us in areas such as health, education, the economy and civil rights. 

Voting in the 2022 midterm elections is easy. Request your ballot now

How do I know if I’m eligible? 

If you’re a US citizen and over the age of 18 years, you are eligible to vote. 

Put simply, if you could vote in the US, you can vote from abroad. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know when you will return to the US, or if you plan on never returning – this is a right that you don’t lose. 

What matters for each individual election is that you are registered to vote. All states and territories require that this is done before a certain deadline, varying from state to state. 16.67 percent of readers polled felt that ‘the deadlines can be too confusing’ – to help voters with this, the FVAP website has quick links to the deadlines for each state. 

How do I register to vote? 

Almost a quarter of readers (21.67 percent) told us that they ‘don’t know how to register’.  Luckily, the process is simple and easy to complete. First, visit the FVAP website. There, you can use FVAP’s Online Assistant to register with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) – a very brief process as you only need a few personal details.

The FPCA is also how you request your ballot. Once you complete the form, print, sign, send in the FPCA to you election office and your ballot will be on its way to you!

Some states allow you to email or fax your FPCA to their electoral authority. Check what your state allows using the graphic below.

Source: FVAP.gov

How do I fill out my ballot? 

Regardless of which state electoral authority will count your vote, all absentee ballot papers come with clear instructions for filling them out – such as writing details legibly, using block letters. You should also follow any specific instructions for sealing the ballot and signing the required affidavit. This last part is important – it’s how electoral officials verify your ballot so that it can be counted. 

Find out how the Federal Voting Assistance Program makes voting from abroad easy for US citizens

How much time should I allow to post my ballot? 

This was identified as one of the main concerns for many of our readers – some 46.67 percent of readers identified that ‘mail is unreliable’. However, as long as ballots are sent in good time – at least two weeks before the election – you should avoid running into any issues.

Some states even allow you to submit your mail by fax or email, as shown in the graphic at the head of this article. 

It’s never been easier to vote from abroad. Photo: Getty Images

How do I know whether my ballot has been received? 

You can check to see whether your ballot has been received by contacting the electoral authority in the state that you are voting in. 

Again, FVAP makes this process easy. By selecting your home state on the website, you can either make an email query, or if the state has an online system, you can use it to check if the ballot has arrived and been processed. 

What happens if I don’t receive my ballot?

If you have not received your ballot in a timely fashion, you do have a backup – the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) allows you to vote. Simply input your state and local jurisdiction and follow the steps. Just make sure you send your FWAB so that it arrives before the deadline for your particular state’s electoral authority – these are easily found in the FVAP Voting Assistance Guide by clicking on your state.

The 2022 midterms are an opportunity for every eligible US citizen to help decide the future direction of the communities they have strong links to. 

Don’t delay – get registered to vote using FVAP’s free Online Assistant today and make sure your vote arrives in time

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CRIME

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

A French court on Thursday found former justice minister Michel Mercier guilty of embezzlement in a fake jobs scheme he ran for the benefit of family members.

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

Mercier, 75, who served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy between 2010 and 2012, claimed tens of thousands of euros for his wife and daughter for parliamentary jobs  they never carried out.

The court handed him a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Mercier gave “personal gain precedence over the public good”, the court said in its verdict, calling Mercier’s actions “serious”.

As senator, Mercier claimed 50,000 euros ($54,000 at today’s rate) in salary for his wife Joelle between 2005 and 2009, and  €37,000 for his daughter Delphine between 2012 and 2014.

During that time, Delphine Mercier was living in London and did not set foot in the French Senate, but her father claimed she was acting as his “cultural advisor”.

Neither Mercier nor his daughter were able to provide any proof of actual work done.

Joelle Mercier, meanwhile, claimed during the trial that she had served as her husband’s representative at village fairs and funerals.

She was found guilty of conspiracy to embezzle public funds and of receiving stolen money and sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and a €40,000 fine.

The court handed the daughter a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €10,000.

Prosecutors had asked for the ex-minister to serve one year behind bars, accusing him of “creating smoke screens” in his defence and seeking to mislead the court.

Mercier had based part of his defence on his rural roots, pitting his “common sense” against the “Parisians” of the national financial crimes unit PNF.

Several French politicians have been convicted for similar offences committed before France in 2017 banned National Assembly deputies and senators from employing family members.

The move came in reaction to a public outcry over a high-profile case involving former right-wing prime minister Francois Fillon, who was found guilty of providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds.

The “Penelopegate” scandal, revealed in a media report while he was the front-runner in the 2017 presidential race, torpedoed  his political career and cleared a path for then-relatively unknown Emmanuel Macron.

Last year, a court trimmed Fillon’s sentence to four years in prison with three suspended — down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020.

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