Last week we encouraged all of you to register to vote and flex your over-18 muscles. This week, we’re interested in demystifying the Absentee Balloting process, which varies from state to state.
Already Registered (outside of New York)
For those of you who nonchalantly registered to vote when you went to the DMV to pick up your new 18+ drivers licenses outside of New York state, voting in the 2012 election will be a remote process.
Those who decide to simply invalidate any out-of New York voter registration can register to vote in New York. But if you live in what’s being called a “purple” state – like Pennsylvania – why on earth would you do that? Absentee voting is a great way to have your voice heard back home – especially in a tight election year. Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or independent, you should really think about where your vote and your voice will matter the most.
If you are voting for the first time via absentee ballot this fall, it’s best to be aware of the paperwork and the lag time for paperwork processing. It may take you weeks or even a month before you are granted absentee voting capabilities.
Here are some really helpful websites that make this process easier. Find your state, fill out the forms, buy stamps for the first time in ages and send off your application! The sooner you do it, the better.
-Rock the Vote’s FAQ page
Everyone knows about Rock the Vote. Rock the Vote knows what to do if you lose your voter registration card, have trouble with absentee ballots, or anything else. They’ve launched their nonpartisan voter registration drive this month; if you’re interested, become a volunteer.
This is a great website and resource for absentee voters. They also have updates and information about early voting in-person in your home state.
This is a really helpful part of the FVAP website. Did you know that some states allow you to email your absentee ballot forms? You can also get your postage fees waived. Check it out.
Always make sure that the rules and regulations you find on any website (including a .gov site) is updated for the 2012 elections.
Studying Abroad? The Overseas Absentee Ballot
Fall 2012 Study Abroaders! Please note that international absentee balloting is a whole other process.
The Federal Voting Assistance Guide is available in PDF form online, and from page 13 onwards lists state-specific instructions for overseas absentee ballot completion. On the Federal Students Abroad website, there are more instructions for troubleshooting if you do not receive your absentee ballot in London or Paris or Shanghai, and the election is 25 days away. Usually all it takes is a visit to the U.S. Consulate, and you’ll be able to vote.
It is more likely by completing the necessary paperwork before leaving the U.S., you will be able to vote by a regular mail-in absentee ballot; your ballot will be mailed to the international address that you provide on the form. As per the most recent changes to overseas citizens voting procedures, all states are required to send out absentee ballots as early as 45 days before the election.
Remember: The early bird is the one who has a pain-free absentee ballot registration process. Be the early bird.