This article originally appeared in the Times of Israel Blog, Sep 29, 2016, written by U.S. Vote Foundation Overseas Vote Volunteer, Andee Goldman. 

Time is of the essence — the General Election is November 8th. Every vote is important. A simple mistake could be made that disqualifies you from absentee voting. Submitting to your State, a Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot request (FPCA), does not always mean you are registered. Mail is lost, or questions go unanswered. While there still is time: contact your Election Official to verify you are registered. If you voted in the primaries, you don’t have to do anything, but wait until you receive your ballot.

Check your State deadlines, instructions, and options. Each State sets its own deadlines for registering to vote, and its options for how absentee ballots are sent to voters. California’s Voter Registration deadline is October 24th; while, Nevada is October 8th. States can also differ in their requirements, and deadlines regarding how to complete and submit absentee ballots.

Registered absentee voters are beginning to receive their State ballots via email or regular mail. Fill out your ballot and election materials correctly. Many States have specific requirements for signing the envelope or an affidavit enclosed with your ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot to ensure it gets counted. If you have any questions, contact your Election Official. Better to be safe than sorry.

What if you are registered and your official ballot did not arrive in time? A Federal Write-in Ballot FWAB is an alternative ballot for overseas and uniformed services voters whose ballots are late. All ballots, including the FWAB, must be received on or before the Election Day in order to be counted. To allow for mail delays or mistakes; vote your ballot as soon as possible. FWAB

Twenty-two states allow email of ballot return – Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington (state), and West Virginia.

Check that your voted ballot reaches its destination. If you’re wondering if your vote made it home, check the status of your ballot by selecting your State and contacting your election office directly. Emailed ballots usually receive an automatic confirmation.

Voters from the following States –California, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky,Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee,Vermont, Washington qualify for a little known program called, “Vote in Honor of Veterans” that pays tribute to the sacrifices that veterans have made throughout history to protect our freedoms and our sacred right to vote. “We encourage people to honor a loved one or family member who served in the military, by filling out a postcard or making a tribute online at We will then send the honorer and the honoree, if they are still with us, an Honor a Veteran with Your Vote lapel pin, and encourage them to wear it on Election Day.” Kevin Hull, Office of Iowa Sec of State

As an American overseas, your absentee ballot counts the same as ballots cast at the local poll site. All ballots submitted according to State laws are counted in every election. The media often will report the projected outcome of an election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report the preliminary results or say that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the official totals for every election — and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.