For non-military American citizens living abroad, voting from Prague requires extra effort. While many countries allow voting at the embassies, the United States uses an absentee mailing system for its citizens abroad. Local election offices manage absentee ballots. Voting is not mandatory for Americans, like it is for Brazilians or Australians, although some consider it a patriotic duty.
Midterm elections usually have a dramatic fall in voter turnout, but 2020 is a presidential election year. Americans voting from Prague can request an absentee ballot with a few minutes and perhaps the cost of postage. The August 1st deadline is approaching, so request your ballot as soon as possible.
Are You Eligible Voting From Prague?
Across all fifty states, American citizens age 18 and older are eligible to vote. Even American citizens who have never lived in the US are eligible to vote. State laws vary on whether felons can vote. State laws also vary on what constitutes a resident of that state. Check with your local election office to ensure you can register as a voter of that state.
Request Your Ballot
The Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) is the only form Americans need to request their ballot. Requirements vary by state, but for many, requesting an absentee ballot can be done entirely online, via fax or email.
For all Americans, the Federal Voting Assistance Program is the easiest way to request a ballot. The local election office in your county needs to receive your ballot request by August 1st, 2020, for the November election. The FVAP outlines five simple steps for requesting a ballot:
- Fill in your data
- Review it for accuracy
- Print out your form
- Sign it
- Mail it
Mail Your Ballot
For every election cycle, expat voters must fill out and submit a form for an absentee ballot. Once the local election office approves the request, voters can receive their ballots electronically or by mail. States will send out ballots for absentee voters 45 days before the presidential election. Voters should complete the ballot, then mail it back to their local election officials. Ballots need to be postmarked by November 3rd, 2020, to ensure on-time delivery.
Some jurisdictions allow voting via email or fax. The voter takes a photo or scan of the ballot for their local election office. This can be a quick, easy option for voters. Be aware that voting via email or fax automatically waives a voter’s right to a secret ballot.
The November election feels ages away, but be sure to turn in your request form and ballot on time so your voice is heard.
American by birth and Praguer by choice, Caroline can be found enjoying Pho Bo at one of the city’s many Vietnamese restaurants or finding the best way to promote public transportation.