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Are You Ready to Vote in the U.S. Election?

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Ballot box with an American flag
Credit: Jeffrey Collingwood | Thinkstock

In less than eight weeks, America will choose a new president to lead the country for the next four years. Are you ready to vote in the U.S. election?

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, voting matters, whether it is for a president, a U.S. representative or a local councilman. It is a constitutional right that all expats should exercise.

If you have lived in Mexico for a while and have voted in U.S. elections, you know the ropes. But if you have not voted here before, you need to know how to go about it.

To get the details we contacted Cathy Rice, GOTV Chair, Democrats Abroad Costa Banderas (DACB). The organization has been helping Democrats, Republicans and Independents register to vote for years. Let me stress that they provide assistance to anyone, not just Democrats.

“All U.S. citizens living outside the United States have the right to vote in U.S. elections,” Rice tells us. “It doesn’t matter if you were registered to vote in the U.S. or how long you have lived abroad.”

Rice says expats need to register and request a new ballot for every calendar year they wish to vote. The U.S. government makes it easy through its website or you can register to receive a ballot at https://www.votefromabroad.org.

Due to COVID-19, Democrats Abroad did note set-up registration tables this year. Voters will need to register online at the two websites listed above.

Rice says, “Each site provides voter registration requirements for all 56 U.S. voting jurisdictions, detailed instructions for submitting the form and verifying receipt, as well as online assistance through Help Desks.”

“It’s important to remember when filling out your FPC that when it asks where you last lived, indicate the last state you lived in, not the last state you voted in,” Rice says. “Once you complete the online form and send it to your local county registrar in the last state you lived in before moving abroad, be sure to give them a call to follow-up if you don’t hear from them within a month or so. You can find how to contact your local county registrar’s office at https://www.votefromabroad.org/states by clicking on your state and then the county you are registered in. It will give you phone numbers, emails and other contact information. States are required to send you your ballot 45 days in advance of any election.”

Rice highly recommends sending ballots by email or fax, but there are states that do not have those options, so the ballot must be mailed. If you plan to send your completed ballot by mail, she strongly recommends that you use carriers like DHL, UPS or FedEx, not the Mexico postal service, to ensure that it gets there, and on time. Some cities in Mexico also have local U.S. postal service chains like Shop & Mail in Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias. Rice recommends you return your ballot a full four weeks prior to the election to ensure it arrives on time and your vote is counted.

She also recommends that you get started early to ensure that you can vote this year. The deadlines below are not FINAL deadlines, which vary by state.

1.   Register to vote: This should have been done by August 31.
2.   Request your ballot: September 15
3.   Verify with your local election office: September 15
4.   Receive your ballot: September 19
5.   Return your ballot: October 2

You can find additional information at the Democrats Abroad in Mexico Facebook page and the Costa Banderas chapter’s page.

If you have any questions, contact Democrats Abroad, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent.

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