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Still Time to Register to Vote in U.S. General Election

October 15, 2010

It’s still not too late to register to vote for the 2010 U.S. general election at www.fvap.gov. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2, and will include all the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the U.S. Senate.

If you are a U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older, you are eligible to vote absentee in all federal elections and some state elections while residing abroad. Be aware that registration deadlines vary by state, so you must act quickly to make sure your voice is heard.

For federal elections, you must register in advance by using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which can be found on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov/resources/media/fpca.pdf. The form must be filled out completely, signed, dated and returned to your state election official. Some states allow electronic transmission of the FPCA via fax or e-mail to expedite the process, but many still require the original by mail as well. Once your application has been processed, your state election official will send you a blank ballot to complete and return.

Be aware of mail transit times between Costa Rica and your home state. International mail is not always reliable, so pay attention to deadlines and leave sufficient time for mailing and processing. If you have already requested your absentee ballot but still have not submitted it, you should submit a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), also available online at www.fvap.gov, to ensure your vote is counted. Your FWAB will be counted only if your properly voted ballot is not returned to local election officials by the state’s ballot receipt deadline.

Some states also allow overseas voters to vote in state and local elections and referendums. Eligibility and residency requirements are determined by the individual state. To find out if you can vote in your state of legal residence, or in the state where you last resided prior to your departure from the U.S., visit www.fvap.gov/vao/guide.html.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program website is the official U.S. government resource for overseas absentee voters. You may also visit the U.S. Embassy San José website at sanjose.usembassy.gov for links to important voting resources.

In short: (1) Check out the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website at www.fvap.gov; (2) verify your state’s registration requirements and deadlines; (3) submit your Federal Post Card Application; (4) receive your absentee ballot in the mail; and (5) vote!

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