Only a teacher would think to bring a map of the United States, a blue marker and a red one, to an Election Day party in Spain.
“Ok, everybody! Teacher’s here with the electoral map!” Lindsay called out as I hung it on the wall under the TV, and I had miniature US flags waved in my face as a show of solidarity in the upstairs bar of Merchant’s Malt House in Seville. I don’t remember if it was a blustery sort of November that we tend to have In Chicago on Election Night, or which states I colored in, tallying up the electoral votes for each candidate. I do remember the elation of knowing the small team, spearheaded by an incredibly savvy and forward-thinking American woman, had registered dozens of study abroad students and American residents to vote from sunny Spain.
For someone who is not overly patriotic, voting is one of the most important responsibilities I feel I have while overseas. In fact, it’s the only ONLY right I don’t have as a resident in Spain, which makes my voice all the more important when every first Tuesday in November rolls around.
Voting abroad is simple, so there’s no reason to not do it! Here’s how to easily cast your ballot from abroad:
First: Make sure you’re actually registered to vote!
Remember all of those civics classes you had to sit through in high school? By now you should know that no one counts as 2/3 of a person and you can vote as a woman, so there’s absolutely no reason on this big Earth why you can’t do it (unless you’re under 18). Registering to vote is an insanely simple process that can be done in person at a local election office, by heading into the DMV, or even by soliciting this information through the mail. If you’re currently abroad, you can print off these forms and mail them back Stateside to your local office.
If you are already overseas, you will have to print out the forms listed on your state’s election website and mail it to your election office, or complete the online registration at the Federal Voter Assistance Program. You’ll need to provide basic information, including your driver’s licence number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Second: Educate yourself, duh.
I don’t like no stupids, so please be a good person and do your research (this article is strictly non-partisan, so make sure your candidate’s ideals are lined up with your own! It’s all about knowledge, friends!)
Third — Request an Absentee Ballot
Click to the FVAP’s site, choose request an absentee ballot and click on the state you are registered to vote in. Using the Wizard, carefully fill in your pertinent information about where your ballot should be sent. You can request the ballot by email, fax or regular mail. Do note that, using this method, you can mail in the registration and the ballot at the same time.
You’ll receive a PDF with all of your information. This must be printed, signed and dated, then sent to your local election office. I faxed my request into my local office and received my write-in ballot not 12 hours later.
Finally – Cast your ballot and enjoy elections parties around Spain on November 6th!
Your local election office will send you the PDF form of a write-in ballot. your state will have its own regulations about how to return the ballot and whether there is additionally information (Illinois, for example, requires a secrecy waiver). Send it certified and let your voice count!
DA is planning a massive tri-city simultaneous party for the big night, meant to be a sort of gala fundraiser. I’ve been speaking with the president of the Seville organization, but plans are not finalized. Get in touch with me through my Facebook page for more information, or to help out (possibility of a paid position!).