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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

US Voters: These midterms matter – here’s how to request your ballot

Across Europe there are many Americans living and working, enjoying the lifestyle, sights and culture that their adopted home has to offer. However, things don’t stand still back in the United States.

US Voters: These midterms matter - here's how to request your ballot
It's never been easier to request your overseas ballot. Photo: Getty Images

The US is only months away from the 2022 midterm elections, and for US citizens abroad, voting is easier than you think. Here’s how to have a say in the future of your hometown, state and country.

What are the midterms, and why do they matter?

Unlike the Presidential elections, the midterm elections determine state representation in Congress and a number of state-level offices – this year all of the seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, 36 state governors and 30 state attorney generals will be elected by the people. 

The results of the midterms can have a large impact on the make-up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, changing the kinds of laws the governing administration is able to pass in the next two (the term of a representative) to six (the term of a senator) years.

As we have seen in the news recently, such laws can have significant implications for the rights of friends and family in the United States. 

This year, the US midterm elections are held on the 8th of November. 

For U.S. citizens living overseas who want to have a say in the future of their hometown, city and state, it is important to know how to navigate the absentee voting process for midterm elections. 

However, voter turnout from overseas is traditionally very low. According to the 2018 Overseas Citizen Population Analysis Report, only 13.9% of eligible voters from Germany participated in the last midterm elections, while in France, only 4.9% voted. 

U.S. citizens abroad who did not return a voted ballot reported having difficulties completing the process, or not being able to get their ballot in time to vote. We’re breaking down the absentee voting process into two, straightforward steps you can follow to make sure you have plenty of time to send your ballot back to the States — no matter where you’re voting from.

The 2022 midterm elections are approaching – time to request your absentee ballot.

Requesting your online ballot only takes minutes. PhotoL Supplied

How can I vote in the midterms from overseas?

Whereas many Americans located in the United States only need to show up on Election Day to cast their vote, the process begins earlier for U.S. citizens living abroad. As voting for American citizens abroad is largely conducted via post, the process has checks and balances to ensure the security and integrity of the vote, which means that you need to begin the process far in advance. 

Your first step should be to visit the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, to start the process of registering to vote and requesting your absentee ballot. 

“It’s incredibly easy to vote absentee (and I would argue even easier than voting in person). The city clerk of the last US town you lived in is your lifeline. Mine even emailed me a few weeks back reminding me to register to vote for the upcoming elections this fall.”   – Hannah Houseworth, Michigan, now in France

Their Online Assistant will help you through the process of registering, if you are not already, and filling out your ballot request, or Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)– which takes around two minutes to complete. When filling out the form, you can select the option to receive your blank ballot electronically to speed up the process.

From there, you’ll send your FPCA to your state’s election office by mail, fax or even email, depending on your state’s submission guidelines. FVAP recommends submitting your FPCA by the 1st of August.

If you would like further reminders and tips on absentee voting, you can sign up for email alerts here

Select your state to see specific guidelines and deadlines for absentee voting forms.

No matter where they are in the world, U.S. citizens can vote absentee in midterm elections. Photo: Getty Images 

The second step is to vote as soon as your blank ballot arrives. If you chose to receive your ballot electronically via the FPCA, you should receive it the day ballots are sent by your state’s election office: the 24th of September.  FVAP recommends U.S. citizens living overseas send their voted ballots back by the 24th of October to ensure your election office receives them in time. 

What is my voting residence? 

Your voting residence is the last address you had in the United States immediately prior to leaving for overseas. More information can be found here

“Easy-peazy. California sends me an email telling me my ballot’s on its way, I receive my ballot and voter guide via snail mail, I send the ballot back, and I get an email confirmation when they’ve received and counted it.

In-between all of that, I get friendly reminders from the state reminding me to send my ballot.” – Sarah Saromanos, California, now in France

Is voting by mail from overseas safe and secure?

Voting by mail from overseas is extremely secure, and upon receiving your ballot, there are a number of security measures undertaken not only to protect your vote but to ensure that it matches your identity. 

Furthermore, none of your personal information is saved while using FVAP’s Online Assistant to request an absentee ballot. You can be sure that you are not sharing your private data with any third parties at any point in the process. 

Voting this November is not only secure but there are a number of resources available to help you every step of the way. 

Get started today. Register and request your absentee ballot to vote in US midterm elections with the FPCA.

Member comments

  1. Maybe someone can answer this question. I have lived in Germany for 4 years. I am paid in euro and pay German taxes. I have no income in the US. I don’t want to have to deal with my old state of which I have no relationship with anymore. I also don’t follow their local politics. What happens if I vote using my old address? Will they start to treat me like I live there still? All of my personal mail in the US is sent to my sister’s house in another state but I have never lived there. It is all very confusing.

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UNITED STATES

Trump or Biden: Who is better for Spain-US relations?

As the world anxiously awaits the results of the US elections, we take a look at what another four years of Donald Trump in the White House could mean for Spain and whether a win by Joe Biden would strengthen relations between the two nations.

Trump or Biden: Who is better for Spain-US relations?
Photos: AFP

Brexit

The outcome of the US election is widely touted to have an influence on whether there will be a no-deal Brexit in the UK, one of the main concerns for the Spanish government with fewer than 60 days left for the end of the transition period.

The UK is the biggest foreign investor in Spain, with more than €8 billion pumped into the Spanish economy so far in 2020 (56 percent of all foreign investment in the country), resulting in the direct creation of 201,000 jobs.

In pre-Covid times, 19 million British tourists visited Spain (2019 figures) spending €18 billion on their holidays, and many Spanish communities survive thanks to the economic injection of British ‘swallows’ spending extended periods of time in the country.

All this is at risk if a no-deal Brexit and its consequences make it harder for Brits to visit Spain.

Ivan Rogers, former UK ambassador to the EU, has said that UK prime minister Boris Johnson will think “history was going his way” if Donald Trump – an outspoken supporter of a no-deal Brexit – is re-elected.

“If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away,” Trump told the Sunday Times in mid-2019 regarding a potential no-deal Brexit.

The incumbent US leader has promised that his country’s ‘special relationship’ with their anglophone friends across the pond would lead to a quick and easy trade deal once they’re rid of the 'clutches' of the EU, who Trump is not a fan of either.

But if Biden wins the election, the UK could end up at the back of the queue as feared by many.

The Democratic candidate has never been a fan of Brexit or Johnson.

Biden has ruled out any future trade agreement between the US and the UK if the ruling Conservatives don’t respect the Good Friday Agreement as is currently happening, tweeting “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit”.

If Biden – who has Irish roots – were to win, it wouldn’t be surprising if his first call to a head of state was not to Downing Street as tradition marks, but to the Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Trump poses with Spain's King Felipe VI during a meeting at the White House in 2018.

Tariffs on Spanish goods

If Trump wins, the general consensus is that his trade war against the US’s European allies-turned-enemies will simply rage on.

The Republican leader’s imposition of $7.5 billion in annual tariffs on the EU has had a huge impact on Spanish exports to the US, with traditional goods such as Cava, cheese, olive oil and seafood losing millions of euros respectively.

Stopping the negotiation of the new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty (TTIP) between the US and the EU won’t help either, since 97 percent of the tariffs could have been eliminated.

On the geopolitical front, the refusal to give military autonomy to the EU would continue with a Trump victory, as the bloc depends on the United States’ approval through NATO for this to occur. Spain is one of the countries that defends the EU’s military emancipation.

Joe Biden’s stance on international trade isn’t quite clear yet, having chosen not to mention tariffs or foreign investment in his electoral rhetoric.

It is true however that he has run on a message of prioritising the US’s economic recovery and job creation, which could be perceived as protectionist, as well as supporting the Buy American Act that encourages the purchase of national products and services.

But this could just be in the context of the election campaign in which he has needed to enlist the support of a broad spectrum of Democratic Party leaders, some of whom have deep reservations about free trade.

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Biden’s foreign policy agenda outlines how “American Leadership” has been lacking from President Trump’s policy of “America First”, “emphasizing the importance of training the U.S. workforce for a competitive global environment, a renewed commitment to reducing trade barriers, and a coordinated approach to negotiations with China that utilizes U.S. allies and international institutions”.

Furthermore, former National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told the US Chamber of Commerce in September that Biden would end the “artificial trade war” against Europe, while working to address ongoing imbalances in agricultural trade between the two sides.

Then US Vice-President Joe Biden meets former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Madrid in 2014. 

Spain's far right weakened

Before the wave of populism which swept across the world on the cusp of Trump’s 2016 victory, Spain hadn’t really had a far-right party garnering much support since the end of Spain’s dictatorship in 1975-1978.

In 2015 Vox was still a fringe party with only 0.23 percent of national votes.

But by the time 2019’s general elections came around, the party experienced a meteoric rise, becoming the country's third political force with its patriotic, conservative, anti-immigration, anti-media and anti-EU rhetoric. Sound familiar?

Vox’s leader Santiago Abascal is a keen supporter of Donald Trump and everything he stands for, announcing in 2019 that his party also wanted to ‘build a wall’ along Spain’s southern border. Even his tweets sound similar to Trump’s.

“Whatever the outcome of the US elections, once again we can point to the ignorance and manipulation of the media, political experts, pollsters and opinion givers,” Abascal wrote on Tuesday.

“Once more their lies have been exposed. Trump can feel like a winner, for still standing against everyone”.

 

Vox, just like other far-right parties in Europe such as Le Front National in France, have an ally in Trump, someone who has normalised hate speech, hyperbolism and extreme views among disenfranchised voters who have been let down by the establishment.

A Biden victory could result in a shift in mentality globally, at least in terms of exposure to the chaos which governs our daily news in recent years, and with it a return to more moderate views both in Spain and abroad.

With the prospect of a weakened Vox if Trump were to leave office, it’s no surprise that Abascal also had this to say about the Democratic frontrunner: “Biden is El País's favourite. Podemos's favourite. Otegui's favourite. Maduro's favourite. China's favourite. Iran's favourite. A paedophile’s favourite.” 

READ MORE: Americans in Spain: How do you feel about the US election?

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