Absentee/Overseas Voting From France

Tracy and I believe that it is essential to participate in the privilege and right of voting in the US.

One major issue we have read in the many expat forums is Americans who say that they have had difficulties voting while living abroad. But so far our voting experience has been very positive.  I wonder with the ease we have navigated the process if some of those voting complaints are from the distance past or because of a person living overseas misunderstanding of the process to obtain a ballot.

Since 1986 there has been the “Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA)” that requires that all overseas citizens be allowed to register and vote in federal elections. For Nevada, the Secretary of State web site explains the absentee/overseas process on its “Military/ Overseas Voting” page.  The web page also supplies links to individual Nevada counties’ Registrars of Voters and to the Federal Voting Assistance Program that assists both military and civilian overseas voters.

Our Washoe County Registrar of Voter’s web site is also very helpful with a form request page that carefully explains the absentee/overseas process:

“ABSENT BALLOT REQUEST

An absent ballot request form can be filled out and processed at the beginning of each election year.  Your absent ballot request is only valid for the calendar year in which we receive it.  It is important that you specify which election(s) you are requesting a ballot for.

THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR AN ABSENT BALLOT IS THE TUESDAY PRIOR TO ANY ELECTION, AT 5 PM.  WE STRONGLY URGE YOU TO SEND IN YOUR REQUEST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  REMEMBER, YOUR VOTED BALLOT MUST BE IN OUR OFFICE BY 7 PM ON ELECTION DAY IN ORDER TO BE COUNTED.

BALLOTS WILL BE MAILED TO OVERSEAS AND MILITARY VOTERS 45 DAYS PRIOR TO ANY ELECTION. BALLOTS WITH OUT-OF-STATE MAILING ADDRESSES WILL BE MAILED 40 DAYS PRIOR TO ANY ELECTION AND BALLOTS WITH IN-STATE ADDRESSES WILL BE MAILED AT THE 30-DAY MARK.
 IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU PLAN ACCORDINGLY. 

You can print, fill out and mail or fax the Absent Ballot Request form below to us.  (Remember, your signature is required.)  If you find that the address you have listed for the Primary Election will not be valid for the General Election, please submit an updated request.  We cannot accept changes by phone.  Please call us if you have any questions.  (775) 328-3670″

We downloaded a “Absent Ballot Request Form” for each of us, completed the form, attached copies of our Nevada driver licenses, and mailed the form to the Washoe County Registrar of Voters.  The form gave us the option to request an absentee ballot for a specific election or for every election during the calendar year (which was our choice.)

Washoe County Absent Ballot Request
Washoe County Absent Ballot Request

There is obviously some personal responsibility and pre-planning of deadlines required by an American living overseas to be able to vote. It is not an automatic process. A new request needs to be submitted every year.

Our absentee/overseas ballots for the primary election arrived in France on May 5 for the primary election scheduled June 10.

Absentee Ballot Envelop
Absentee Ballot Envelope

Inside the envelope is the primary ballot for my political party, “Instructions For Washoe County Military, Military Spouses And Overseas Vote-By-Mail Voters” in both English and Spanish, a notice that a candidate for office has died but remains on the previously printed ballot (also in English and Spanish), a “Secrecy Sleeve” to protect privacy, and a special return envelope.

Absentee Ballot Materials
Absentee Ballot Materials

After marking our selections of candidates on the ballot (in black or blue ink only, to be read by an electronic scanner), there is an elaborate six-step process to protect our privacy while ensuring the integrity of the absentee voting process.

Ballot Mailing Directions
Ballot Mailing Directions

Once our Byzantine directions for signing and sealing the envelopes are accomplished, all that is left is a quick trip to la Poste (the post office) to add an €1,78 international stamp to each envelope (about $4.90 total) and give the ballots plenty of time to make it back to Reno by 7 p.m. June 10.

We also have the ability to confirm our ballots arrived at the Washoe County Registrar of Voters by visiting myvoterfile at the Nevada Secretary of State’s web site.

Our patriotic duty to vote is done until the general election on November 4.

Ballot Envelopes
Ballot Envelopes
 
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