Letter to the Editor: Vote from Abroad

Overseas Americans – estimated at 6.5 million eligible voters – won the right to cast their ballots from abroad in 1975, when the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) was signed into law. 

UOCAVA voters include U.S. military and civilian citizens aged 18 or older by Election Day. In many states, this also includes U.S. passport holders who were born overseas. 

One potentially complicating factor is that U.S. citizens living temporarily or permanently overseas must submit a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in order to reregister and ensure receipt of their absentee ballot every election year.

With the entire House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate, 36 governorships and many state and local offices in play, 2022 is a very important election year. In the general election of 2020 – a year in which voter-participation records were smashed nationwide – just 17% of Americans overseas exercised their right to vote. Although this was a significant increase over the 2016 participation rate of <7%, it remains dismally low when compared to that of stateside Americans.

If you know someone living temporarily or permanently overseas, please share with them the information that they are eligible to vote, and that it is in their interest to do so. (One reason is that all Americans, regardless of where they live, must file a federal income-tax return each year.) Their voting rights are best protected by registering via the FPCA.

The nonpartisan website is a helpful, user-friendly tool that will make this process quick and painless. Consult the FAQs or use the chat box if you have questions. Be sure to check the box asking that your ballot be sent by email because Wisconsin voters must return their ballots by postal mail.

Thank you for helping us to reach overseas voters!

Ann Graul

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin / Barcelona, Spain

(Graul grew up in Sturgeon Bay, where her parents still live, and she casts her vote with Sturgeon Bay voters even though she currently lives in Spain.)