Make Your Voice Heard – Voting in the 2020 Elections

This 4th of July, Embassy Port Moresby encourages U.S. citizens in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu to celebrate Independence Day by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2020 elections!

Many recent U.S. elections have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by military and overseas voters. NOW is the time to ensure your voice is heard this November 3rd!

Most U.S. citizens can complete voter registration and ballot request processes online in a matter of minutes. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to visit FVAP.gov/citizen-voter, select their state from the map, and learn more about how to register to vote, request ballots, return voted ballots, and view information on your state’s deadlines

Most states have an online voter registration tool accessible through the FVAP website, and some states also have options for eligible voters to submit forms and return voted ballots by email or fax.

U.S. citizens can verify if they are registered to vote by using their state’s online verification website or by contacting their local election officials, for whom you can search at FVAP.gov/search-offices.

Please keep in mind that some states require overseas voters to renew absentee ballot requests each year. In addition to the states’ own forms and online tools, voters can also use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote, request a ballot, and/or update contact information as needed. The FPCA is a standardized form accepted by all states.

In instances where states require the receipt of physical registration forms, ballot request forms, or voted ballots, U.S. citizens are encouraged to use reliable registered mail or private courier services to return materials to their local election officials. This is the best way to ensure your voting materials are received.

The U.S. Embassy can also accept and forward via diplomatic pouch voting forms and ballots on behalf of U.S. citizens. In light of worldwide and local precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact ConsularPortMoresby@state.gov before dropping off election materials at the Embassy.

Physical election materials to be forwarded by the Embassy must be placed in a postage-paid return envelope or an envelope bearing sufficient U.S. postage, and must be pre-addressed to relevant local election officials. We cannot accept or process ballots that do not meet these requirements.

U.S. citizens should bring their pre-prepared, signed election materials and pre-prepared, unsealed envelope so that they can pass through security screening. Following the screening, U.S. citizens may seal the materials and drop them off in the Consular Section waiting area.

The Embassy will accept and process all materials that meet these requirements, but we note that the Embassy is unable to guarantee delivery or provide tracking information for flat mail forwarded via diplomatic pouch. U.S. citizens should keep in mind that diplomatic pouch service to the United States may take several weeks.

Materials submitted to the Embassy with U.S. registered mail service may be tracked as normal, but only after the materials exit the diplomatic pouch system and are received (and postmarked) by the U.S. Postal Service. Different states have different requirements on when materials must be postmarked and/or received.

The Embassy wishes all U.S. citizens in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu a happy 4th of July!

The Embassy is located at:

Douglas Street (next to the Bank of Papua New Guinea)
Port Moresby, 121
National Capital District
Papua New Guinea

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: If I need to use the Federal Post Card Application to register to vote, renew my voter registration, or request my ballot, how soon should a I send it to my local election officials?

A: As soon as possible! Because some states require overseas voters to renew their ballot requests each year, it’s a good practice to contact your local elections officials directly and/or to send in an FPCA every January or every time you change your mailing address, email, or name.

Q: If a I plan to vote absentee from abroad in primary elections, but will be back in the United States for the November general elections, do they have to take any special steps?

A: When citizens fill out their FPCA, in the additional comments in section 6, they should include a note to the local election officials that they will be returning to the United States for the general election. They should include the date of return if known. Once they are back home, they should contact their local election office to confirm their current location in the U.S. and their intention to vote locally in the United States.

Q: It’s 30 days before election day and I haven’t received my ballot yet. What do I do?

A: U.S. voters who have not received their ballots at least 30 days before an election day can fill out the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), also known as the “backup” ballot. It is available for download at FVAP.gov/fwab. Voters can print, sign, and mail the completed and signed FWAB themselves or drop it off at the nearest embassy or consulate as they would a standard ballot. Some states accept absentee ballots by email or fax, so please review the state-specific guidelines at FVAP.gov/citizen-voter.

Q: Can a U.S. citizen who has never lived in the United States vote?

A: Each state has residency requirements relating to voter eligibility. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia allow voters who have never lived in the United States to use their parents’ state of voting residence. We recommend that these U.S. citizens contact the local election officials in the place where their parents last lived, to find out if they are eligible to register to vote. Consular voting assistance officers can help U.S. citizens contact local election officials or they can find more information at FVAP.gov/citizen-voter/reside

Q: Can a U.S. citizen who has not lived in the United States for a long time and cannot remember their previous address register to vote in any state?

A: All voting in the United States is based on a citizen’s state residency. Normally, a citizen will use the address where they last lived before leaving the United States, even if it was a long time ago. This voting residency is valid even if the voter no longer has any ties to this residence, or if the residence has been torn down or repurposed. If they do not remember that address, they can ask family or friends who may know, consult online mapping programs, check medical, school, religious institution or property records or contact the Social Security Administration.

Q: What effect does voting have on a U.S. citizen’s taxes?

A: U.S. citizens have an obligation to file federal tax returns wherever they live. Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect their state’s income tax liability. U.S. citizens should consult legal counsel if they have questions about state income tax liability.

Q: Can I use the Embassy’s fax to transmit my ballot?

A: You are welcome to drop off your completed, signed, and sealed paper ballot at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and we’ll get it to the U.S. Postal Service for delivery to your election office. We are not able to fax your ballot or other election materials. Physical election materials dropped off at the Embassy must be in a postage-paid envelope or bear sufficient U.S. postage and must be addressed to relevant local election officials.

Q: I am a dual citizen of the United States and another country. Can I still vote in US elections?

A: Dual citizens who have U.S. citizenship and who are residing outside of the United States may vote in elections for federal office by registering and requesting a ballot from the election office in their state of legal voting residence. They can get started at FVAP.gov.