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Overseas U.S. Citizen Voter Participation - Too Low!

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There are 4.4 million U.S. citizens abroad, but only 3.4% of them voted in the 2022 General Election. Time to act!

According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) 2022 Post-Election Report to Congress and its “Overseas Citizen Population Analysis,” the U.S. citizens’ population abroad has increased by 1.3m (or 42%) since 2010 and is now 4.4m[1]

FVAP is a federal assistance and education program established by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and “works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so - from anywhere in the world.”[2]

In other words, FVAP’s job is to help active-duty uniformed service members[3] and their family members stationed away from their U.S. voting residence address, U.S. citizens employed by the federal government residing outside the U.S., and civilian U.S. citizens temporarily or permanently living abroad to vote. All in all, FVAP must assist U.S. citizens living abroad in exercising their right to vote in federal elections.

The Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) was enacted by Congress in 1986 and requires that the states and territories allow U.S. citizens covered by FVAP to register and vote absentee for federal elections. According to the FVAP’s Overseas Citizen Population Analysis (OCPA), U.S. citizens live in 185 countries, with the largest populations in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, including Canada.

The greatest population growth since 2010 has been in Oceania, which had an estimated population increase of 70 percent from 2010 to 2022. The population in the Middle East/North Africa also increased substantially, with the 2022 population estimated to be about 60 percent larger than in 2010. [4] 

OCPA estimates that Canada (605,697), the United Kingdom (298,268), France (152,619), Israel (147,151), and Australia (110,919) have the highest number of U.S. citizens over 18 years old. In total, more than 1.3m U.S. eligible citizens live in these countries.

Although all eligible U.S. citizens carry their right to vote no matter where they are on the election day, few take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the U.S. elections.

2022 FVAP Report confirms this fact.[5] According to the report, U.S. citizens’ participation in 2022 General Election was low. Voter registration rate for active-duty uniformed members (ADM) in 2022 was 63 percent, a four-point increase from 2018. However, only 23 percent of ADMs returned their absentee ballots, which is less than the 26 percent voter participation rate for the 2028 General Election. 

Furthermore, 10.6 % U.S. overseas citizens requested absentee ballots (a slight decrease from 2018 from 11.9%), but mere 3.4% of U.S. overseas voters returned their absentee ballot. A domestic absentee’s ballots’ return rate, as a comparison, is more than half (62.5%) in 2022. In brief, U.S. overseas voter participation - ADM and U.S. overseas citizens - is very low.

The main two reasons for low U.S. voter participation were reported as:

  • Difficulties of figuring out how to vote (cited by 20%) and
  • Overly complicated voting process (cited by 22%).[6]

FVAP offered a few recommendations in its 2022 report:

  • Reducing barriers for UOCAVA voters to successfully vote absentee by making the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) more accessible
  • Increasing awareness about absentee voting by educating the voters
  • Enhancing measures of effectiveness and participation.

In other words, U.S. overseas voters should be given assistance in understanding overseas voting process steps, such as registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, and returning the ballot as each state has different procedures, requirements, and deadlines.

Help is on the way!

Overseas Vote, a nonpartisan, non-government organization provides overseas voters a comprehensive range of voter tools and information specific to overseas voters and military voters to assist them in the voting process. 

See the full suite of Overseas Voter Services

Overseas Vote was originally explored as a short-term, proof-of-concept pilot project called Overseas Vote 2004. The project met with resounding success, after which a core group of independent thinkers came together to establish Overseas Vote as a nonpartisan, nonprofit public charity in 2005.

Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, President and CEO of U.S. Vote Foundation and Overseas Vote, states, “We convey the message that, if you’re an American abroad, temporarily or indefinitely, you carry your right to vote in your pocket. The voting process is simple, your questions can be answered and, as citizen, you owe it to your country to cast your ballot and make your voice heard.” So, register now!

Register to Vote and Request Your Overseas Absentee Ballot Now!

Track your Ballot

Donate to U.S. Vote Foundation and Overseas Vote


[3] The eight uniformed services include the armed forces (the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the newly created Space Force) as well as the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. See 10 U.S.C.  §101 (a)(4) and  §101(a)(5).

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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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