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    The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act

    Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act

     

    Tips for California’s Military and Overseas Voters¬†(PDF)

     

    Who Can Become a Military or Overseas Voter?

    If you are eligible to vote in California, you can qualify as a “military or overseas voter” if you are absent from the county in which you are eligible to vote and you are:

    • A member of the active or reserve components of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard; a Merchant Marine; a member of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps of the United States; or a member on activated status of the National Guard or state militia;
    • A spouse or dependent of a person described above; or
    • A U.S. citizen living outside of the territorial limits of the U.S. or D.C.

     

    A military or overseas voter has the right to register for, and to vote by, a vote-by-mail ballot in any California election, including any general, special, or primary election for any federal or statewide office or state ballot measure, as well as in any local contest held in the California precinct in which the voter was a resident when they last lived within the territorial limits of the U.S. or D.C. or, for a citizen born outside of the U.S., in the California precinct in which the citizen’s parent or legal guardian resided when the parent or legal guardian last lived within the territorial limits of the U.S. or D.C.

     

    How to Become a Military or Overseas Voter

    To become a California military or overseas voter, complete the online voter registration application. You can choose to have your ballot and voter’s declaration (included in the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope) faxed or emailed to you, instead of having it delivered by mail. Simply indicate your preference in the space provided on the online form.

     

    If you cannot or do not wish to register online, you may complete the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Members of the military can obtain an FPCA from their installation’s Voting Assistance Officer. Civilian overseas voters can obtain an FPCA at any U.S. embassy or consulate. The FPCA, as well as mailing information and answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website. You may return your completed FPCA by mail or fax to the county elections official of the county where you lived just prior to your departure. The FPCA is postage-paid in the U.S. mail, including the Military Postal System and State Department Pouch mail.

    A list of California’s 58 county elections offices and their contact information is available on our Military and Overseas Voters Information web page.

    As a military or overseas voter you may:

    1. Mail or fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope to your county elections official.You can return your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope by mail or fax (under certain circumstances).If mailing: Your voted ballot and signed return envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.

      If faxing: You may return your ballot by fax if you are a military or overseas voter living outside the territorial limits of the United States or the District of Columbia, or you are a member of the military called for military service within the United States seven or less days before Election Day. It must be received by your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you decide to fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, you must also fax an “Oath of Voter” form to waive your right to a confidential vote. This oath is in addition to the voter’s declaration that is on the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope. Please use the oath form your county provides to you; however, many counties also accept the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form (PDF). Please check with your county before using FVAP’s Alternative Form.

      After you have faxed your voted ballot, signed return envelope, and oath, you are encouraged to also return your voted ballot and signed return envelope by mail or in person, if possible.

    2. Vote by mail in future elections.Under California law, military or overseas voters who complete the online voter registration application or submit an FPCA will automatically be registered as permanent vote-by-mail voters. As a permanent vote-by-mail voter, you will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot in all future elections. However, if you do not vote in four consecutive general elections, you will lose your permanent vote-by-mail voter status and you will have to submit a new FPCA.Additionally, you will need to re-register online or send your county elections official a new FPCA if you:
      • Change your mailing address,
      • Change your name, or
      • Change your political party preference.

      Election materials (including your ballot, Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, and county Voter Information Guide) cannot be forwarded to an address that is different from the one you listed online or on your FPCA. By promptly re-registering online or submitting a new FPCA to your county elections official when you change your mailing address, you will ensure that you receive your ballot and return envelope in a timely manner.

    Register to Vote and/or Request a Ballot

    Even if you are or were registered to vote in your county, in order to receive your election materials and vote when you are absent from your county while serving and/or living overseas, you need to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by completing the online voter registration application or by completing the Federal Postcard Registration and Application or the Federal Application for Write in Ballot.

     

    When you complete your online voter registration application or your FPCA, you can choose to receive your ballot and the accompanying Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope mailed, faxed, or emailed to you. You may even be able to download them from your county elections official’s website. Check the list below for the options in your county.

     

    The FPCA, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, is available from the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Members of the military can also obtain an FPCA from their installation’s Voting Assistance Officer. Civilian overseas voters can obtain an FPCA at any U.S. embassy or consulate. You can mail or fax your completed FPCA to your county elections official. If you mail the FPCA, postage is pre-paid in the U.S. mail, including the Military Postal System and State Department Pouch mail. If you are already registered to vote and are only submitting an FPCA to request a vote-by-mail ballot, you can email your completed and signed FPCA to your county elections official.

    Return Your Voted Ballot and Signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope

    Return your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope to your county elections official. Mail or fax (under certain circumstances) your voted ballot and signed return envelope following the Secretary of State’s online instructions under “Mailing Addresses and Fax Numbers for Military or Overseas Voters”.

     

    If mailing: Your voted ballot and signed return envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.

     

    If faxing: If you are living outside the territorial limits of the United States or are called for military service within the United States on or after the final date to make application for a vote-by-mail ballot, you may return your ballot by fax, but it must be received by your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you decide to fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, you must also fax an “Oath of Voter” form to waive your right to a confidential vote. This oath is in addition to the voter’s declaration that is on the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope. Please use the oath form your county provides to you; however, many counties also accept the “Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form (PDF). Please check with your county before using FVAP’s Alternative Form.

     

    Under California law, while you may receive a blank ballot by email, you may not return a voted ballot by email.