U.S. citizens overseas are guaranteed the right to vote in federal elections in the United States. Please note that you cannot simply log on to a website and vote at the last minute. Almost all states require voters to physically send in registration documents, receive paper ballots by return post, and mail in their completed ballots. Adequate preparation is the key.
You cannot register to vote or vote at the U.S. Embassy or consulates. However, we do supply the forms necessary to request an absentee ballot from your last state of residence. Please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov. This site has detailed information about absentee voting, including how to download, fill in and send the absentee ballot request form to the appropriate address in your state. For quick answers, consult the FVAP’s Voting FAQ.
The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, the U.S. Consulates-General in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Porto Alegre are available to answer questions about absentee voting.
To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call:
- Brasilia – 61-3312-7000 or send an e-mail to Votebrasilia@state.gov.
- Porto Alegre – 51 3345-6000 or send an email to VotePortoalegre@state.gov
- Recife – 81-3416-3050 or send an e-mail to VoteRecife@state.gov
- Rio de Janeiro – 21-3823-2000 (2:00pm to 3:00pm) or send an e-mail to VoteRiodeJaneiro@state.gov
- São Paulo – 11-3250-5000 or send an e-mail to VoteSaoPaulo@state.gov
Look for notices from the Embassy/Consulates throughout the election year.
Again, we strongly encourage you to begin this process as soon as possible.
For more information regarding absentee ballots please click here
Note: Voting Officers do not provide information on candidates and issues. It is the voter’s responsibilities to keep informed through U.S. media, relatives in the U.S., and overseas political party organizations.
Absentee voting process
- To request an absentee ballot, you must complete and submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), available on FVAP website or at the Embassy or US Consulate website.
- An voting officer of your state of residence approves your registration request/vote or will ask for more information;
- Once approved, one voting employee of your state of residence send by mail your absentee ballot;
- Fill in the ballot, notarize it the Embassy or Consulate, if necessary, and send it by mail back to your state of residence. You can send the FPCA to the United States free of charge through the Embassy or Consulate if the envelope indicate that the posting has been paid. The shipping time for the US varies, according to postal system factors beyond our control. You can also send directly to the US using the local postal system and putting the proper amount of postage.
The issue of electoral residence is complex. Even in states where the electoral law sets a criterion for determining the electoral residence, the final determination usually depend on each local voting officer. The 1986 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) allows citizens outside the United States (not affiliated to the Armed Forces) to vote in the state or territory where they resided immediately before leaving the United States, even though many years have passed, and voters do not hold residence in the state or territory and do not have the intention of returning to that state or territory. If a citizen is uncertain about your current electoral residence, he/she should examine his/her connections or ties to the state or particular territory and consult a lawyer.
The following guidelines are for citizens residing outside the United States who are not in active military service or their families to determine their state of legal residence for electoral purposes:
- “State of legal residence” for voting purposes is the state where you resided immediately before leaving the United States. This right extends to overseas citizens even though they don’t have any property or other ties in their last state of residence and they don’t have intention of returning to such a state.
- Eligibility to vote and the residence requirement are determined by the state. Your right to vote in your state and the determination of their electoral district depend on your physical residence when you were in the United States.
- Only 17 states, to date, provide physical presence exemption for UOCAVA citizens abroad. These states allow US citizens eligible that never resided in the United States to register and vote where one of their parents would qualify to vote. See the Electoral Assistance Guide 2007-08 (www.fvap.gov)
What about taxes?
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) provides that the exercise of the right to vote in federal elections under the Act, for purposes of any federal, state or municipal, residence or domicile of the person exercising such right. The vote in federal elections can not be used as the sole basis for determining residence for state or local tax purposes. If you chose a state as a residence and has other ties to it besides voting, you may be subject to state or local tributation depending on the specific law of that state. Consult your attorney or accountant for specific questions.
Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot(FWAB)
Voters abroad may be eligible to use the Federal Write-in Absentee ballot (FWAB) for federal positions (president / vice president, senator and representative). FWAB can be used only in the general election as an alternative for voters who were hoping to use the normal absentee ballot in your state or territory but did not receive it on time to vote and return it. The FWAB must be received by the local voting officer before the deadline for receipt of regular absentee ballots under state law.
The FWAB should be used to assist those voters who would not vote without having done anything for it, and is not meant to be used as a substitute for regular state ballot. It is valid only when the state ballot was requested. The FWAB is available at the Embassy and Consulates.
Please visit the website www.fvap.gov for information on the absentee voting. Or visit the American Citizen Services Unit at the Embassy or Consulate (access the contact information to check the opening hours and address of the Embassy or Consulate responsible for your state of residence).
Other Voting Services
The Consulate Voting Officer posts notices of upcoming elections, notarizes ballot material, and performs similar voting-related duties.