Two simple steps for U.S. military members to vote from anywhere

  • Published
  • By Federal Voting Assistance Program
  • Federal Voting Assistance Program

On a ship? In a combat zone? On base? No matter where you are, you can vote.

If you’re active duty and living away from your voting residence, you can have your absentee ballots sent to you this election year. Here’s how:

1. Register to vote and request your ballot in one easy step.

Fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and send it to your election office by Aug. 1 (or later depending on your state) for the General Election Nov. 3, 2020.

Find your state deadlines, election office’s contact and other helpful information at Your voting residence (the U.S. state or territory where you are registering to vote) is likely your legal residence.

Using the FPCA ensures that your state will send your ballot to you at least 45 days before the election — a protection not guaranteed when using other forms. It’s a good idea to send in a new FPCA every January and each time you move.


2. Fill out and send in your ballot when it arrives.

For the general election, you should receive your ballot by early October.

Vote and send back your ballot as soon as you receive it. The recommended vote-by dates for the 2020 General Election are:

● Oct. 5, 2020, if you’re on a ship at sea

● Oct. 13, 2020, if you’re outside the U.S.

● Oct. 27, 2020, if you’re stateside

If you requested your ballot but haven’t received it, contact your election office to ask about the status of your ballot request.

If there isn’t enough time to receive and send back your ballot before the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or FWAB. It works like a backup ballot. If your official absentee ballot arrives after sending in the FWAB, fill out and send in the official ballot too. Only one will be counted.

After you send in your ballot, you can check if it was received by your election office. Get started at