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What protections do I have as an overseas voter or military voter?

The overseas voting program is defined and protected by a federal law, called the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA)

This voting law is applicable to all states and territories. If you use the federal official form, historically called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), to register and request your overseas or military absentee ballot, you will benefit from UOCAVA voting rights, along with all of the features and benefits inherent in the program. (Please see“What makes the U.S. overseas voting program so special?” for a list these features.)

The overseas Voter Registration/Ballot Request form (FPCA) is available on the U.S. Vote Foundation website. 
UOCAVA makes it clear that election officials cannot discriminate as to the eligibility of overseas citizens, and provides protection from certain indiscriminate demands that might prevent voters from casting a ballot:


Size of Ballot Paper or Envelope 

  • Your overseas voting documents must be legible, but the size and format of the paper onto which your overseas voting documents are printed, or the envelopes in which they are sent, cannot be used as a reason to disqualify your application. 
  • Paper and envelope sizes in countries outside of the U.S. are not necessarily the same as those in the U.S. The UOCAVA law makes it clear that an application sent on a different size of paper, or in a different type of envelope, cannot be denied based on those features. 

Never “Too Early” to Send in Your Form

  • While U.S. citizens abroad and uniformed services members who are absent from their domicile are required to send in a Voter Registration/Ballot Request form each calendar year that they want to vote, there is no specific time within the calendar year to send in your Overseas Registration/Ballot Request Form (FPCA).
  • We only encourage you to send it in as early as possible and avoid any delay. While domestic absentee voters may have their forms rejected based on “too early” arrival, the overseas voting law, UOCAVA, makes it clear that your form cannot be rejected for being received by your election office too early—only if it is received too late!

Additional “Protections” 

  • Rather than calling them “protections,” we tend to refer to the special aspects inherent in the overseas and military voting process as “features and benefits” of the program. 
  • These specific features and benefits are available to all eligible overseas and military voters who file the Overseas Registration/Ballot Request Form (FPCA) to register to vote and request their ballot.
  • Please see “What Makes the U.S. Overseas Voting Program So Special?” for the full list of program features.
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U.S. Vote Foundation offers complete voter services to all voter types including voters abroad and uniformed services voters and their families.

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