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What’s the difference between a “voter abroad,” an “overseas voter,” and a “uniformed absentee voter”?

“Voter abroad” and “overseas voter” are both terms that refer to U.S. citizens who vote from outside the United States They are essentially used interchangeably.

  • It can be argued that a voter who is in Canada or Mexico, countries which border the United States, is not “overseas.” However the federal law written to protect such a voter is titled the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). Within this law, citizens outside of the U.S.—even if they’re in a country that borders the U.S.—are considered overseas for the purposes of voting.


Uniformed Services voters also have UOCAVA voting rights: 

  • A “uniformed absentee voter” is an active-duty member of one of the U.S. uniformed services who is serving away from their home voting district during an election. 
  • The uniformed services are the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, as well as the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps. 
  • Members of the U.S. flag Merchant Marine also qualify as absent uniformed services voters, as do spouses and voting-age family members of uniformed service members and Merchant Marine members, if they are accompanying the service member.
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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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