Absentee Voting Week is September 27-October 4

Be an Active Voter by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections and participating in Absentee Voting Week!

U.S. citizens living overseas are entitled to vote absentee, and the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane can help you submit your ballot this November.

If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late. The process is easy — just follow these steps:

1. Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, we recommend that you complete an FPCA to receive your ballot this fall. It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA.  Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.

The online voting assistant at the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website is an easy way to complete the FPCA. It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible.

Please note that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has temporarily discontinued mail service to several countries, including Laos, due to service impacts related to COVID-19.  You can find out more at the USPS website. Therefore, no matter which state you vote in, when completing the FPCA we encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically(by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery.  The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print and sign.

2. Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)

U.S. Citizens living in Laos are welcome to send FPCAs and other voting materials to local election officials in the United States through the Embassy in Vientiane. The Consular Section is also offering walk-in service during routine operating hours to U.S. Citizens who need assistance completing and/or submitting FPCAs and ballots. An appointment is not necessary. The Embassy’s routine operating hours are Monday through Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 04:30 p.m.

In order to ensure your voting materials reach your local election officials in time, we recommend you provide drop them off by October 5. Place voting materials in either a postage-paid envelope or an envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials. You can download the postage paid envelope from the FVAP website. You can find additional detailed information at the Embassy’s voting website, or you can email us at votevientiane@state.gov.

If it’s more convenient for you, you can have a friend or family member drop off your FPCA at the Embassy on your behalf or you can send your FPCA or ballot directly to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense.

3. Receive Your Ballot

After submitting your FPCA, most states allow you to confirm online your registration and ballot delivery selection. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election (September 19) for federal office(President, U.S. Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives) to any overseas U.S. citizen who has completed an FPCA.

If you asked your local voting officials to send you an absentee ballot by mail and you have not already received it, we regret to inform you that due to the temporary suspension of USPS service to Laos you may not receive it. That doesn’t mean you can’t vote, however: U.S. Citizens who request a paper ballot but do not receive it can complete the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) using the online assistant on the FVAP website. It is a backup ballot you can use if you don’t receive your ballot in a timely manner. 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.

4. Return Your Ballot

Many states allow voters to register to vote and submit ballots electronically. To find out whether your state accepts voting materials electronically, go to the FVAP website. If you plan to return your paper ballot to your election officials via the Embassy, please deliver your ballot to the Embassy by October 5 to account for transit times between overseas posts and local voting districts. If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you, place it in either a postage-paid envelope or envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials. You can download the postage paid envelope from the FVAP website.

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

If you are not sure about the status of your absentee ballot request you should contact your local election officials in the United States or check the status of your registration via your state’s voter registration verification website.

Your Vote Counts

Many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%. All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline (differs by state).

Be an educated voter. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.   You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, and search the Internet to locate articles and information.

To receive information by email about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact votevientiane@state.gov.