01 Aug How to Vote in the U.S. Election While Traveling

We think being an engaged citizen is pretty important, so figuring out how to vote in national elections while abroad is a priority. Regardless of what side you fall on, if you’re a U.S. citizen 18 or older, we sincerely hope you’ll vote in the presidential election this Fall. If you happen to be traveling or living abroad come November, then now is a good time to plan ahead and make sure you’ll be able to vote!

Voting while abroad is not difficult but it does take a little planning ahead. We voted on several ballots, including the 2012 presidential election, while serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Jamaica. We also plan to vote this year even though we’ll be somewhere in SE Asia when casting our ballots.

Early Voting for Short Vacation Travel

If you won’t be able to make it to the polls on election day because of a short trip, many States will allow you to vote in person ahead of time (this can be for any reason, including travel). Visit vote.org for more information on your State’s early voting period.

Absentee Ballots for U.S. Citizens Living Abroad or Traveling Long-Term

If you live overseas, you are eligible to vote abroad through the FVAP.gov. First, you do need to print, sign, and mail in a form to your local elections office where you’re registered in the U.S. Do this at least 30 days in advance of the general election. You’ll have an option to get an electronic ballot (online) or a blank paper ballot in the mail – voting procedures vary by State.

You can vote absentee if you are:

  • an active duty member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine (or their spouse or eligible family member)
  • a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.

Although we don’t have an international address, we consider ourselves to be “residing” outside of the U.S. long enough during election time to use this option.

Absentee ballots should arrive 30-45 days in advance, depending on the election. If you’re waiting for your ballot in the mail and it doesn’t arrive in time, use the emergency Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.

How to Vote in the U.S. Election While Traveling | Intentional Travelers

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If you have any tips of your own for voting while traveling abroad, we invite you to share them in the comments below.

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4 Comments
  • Van
    Posted at 11:17h, 06 October Reply

    This is very helpful! We’ll be traveling and won’t have an international address either. Did you put down your U.S address on the form where it says “where to send ballot/current mailing address’? It says it should be different from your voting residence address. Thanks!

    • Michelle C
      Posted at 15:51h, 06 October Reply

      We’re glad you found this post helpful! We only put our residence/mailing address and then made sure to mark that we wanted electronic ballots, since we couldn’t be sure of receiving our ballot at any international address. (And we have successfully received our e-ballots already!) Our friends who live in Vietnam, however, put their Hanoi address in that spot and will be getting physical ballots in the mail.

      • Van
        Posted at 20:03h, 07 October Reply

        Ah, interesting. I didn’t see that option. We mailed it off today. I think we’ll get it back in time. We’ll be in Chiang Mai and Phuket, Thailand next month. Hope you guys are having fun in Vietnam. Safe travels!

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