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There's nothing misleading about that headline! Yes! Last Friday, I cast my vote for the President of the United States, Senator for Hawaii and Representative for my district in Hawaii. And that's pretty amazing since the primary in Hawaii hasn't even taken place yet!

No, I didn't commit voter fraud, but I'm sure there will be republicans who would like to try and suppress my vote if they knew how easy it was for me to cast that ballot!

You see, I'm an American citizen living abroad so there are some procedures in place to make sure I can cast my vote, and, that my vote actually counts.

Follow me over the curly thing and I'll explain how.

If you are an American citizen, living outside of the United States, you still have a right to cast a vote in your state, local and federal elections. With 2012 being the most important election in the 56 years I've been alive, we need to make sure we get as many democratic voters to the polls as we possibly can.

For those of you living abroad, you can cast your vote this week! And it's easy to do!

Go to the Vote From Abroad Website and to get the necessary information. The website makes it a very simple process. You need to provide the state you are registered to vote in, and if your not already a registered voter, you can also register to vote via the website.

After answering a few simple questions about yourself, you will be registered with the website and you will receive an email, specific by state, containing all the information and forms you need to register, request an absentee ballot and a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot(FWAB) that you can complete and mail in to your County Clerk now to cast your vote for the November Election!

As voting rules differ by state, your absentee ballot may be mailed to you, but many states, like Hawaii, will email the official ballot to you. Since Hawaii has not yet held it's primary election, I will also be able to vote in that election and due to the Congressional race between Mazie Hirono and Ed Case, the primary is probably more important for democratic voters in Hawaii that the general election.

I'm sure you're probably wondering how I could have possibly voted in the November election when the primary hasn't even occurred yet. That's what that Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot(FWAB) is for!

It has a place to cast a vote for President, Senator and US Representative. And, you don't have to write in a name! You can simply vote Democrat for President, Democrat for Senator and Democrat for US Representative. Some states also allow this form to be used to vote for initiatives and other offices if your state allows it's use. After filling out the ballot you put it in an unmarked, sealed envelope and mail it along with the FWAB voter declaration form to your county clerk. If for some reason, you don't receive the official ballot, or you fail to return the official ballot by the deadline, the county clerk will use your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to cast your vote. Simple!

If you're living abroad, make sure your vote counts this year!

I've already voted! You can too!!!

Vote From Abroad Today!!!

Originally posted to reflectionsv37 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  If you want your vote COUNTED (0+ / 0-)

      vote in the most secure way possible--in your precinct where your vote cannot be challenged by way of back-room shenanighans claiming the signature did not match--or worse--the vote gets lost in bag in an insecure holding station, which does happen.  

      I understand that the name of the game is perceived by democrats to be turn out, BUT it is a meaningless exercise when the votes are not all counted.

      The stakes are too high to vote in a 2d class manner!

      Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

      by Einsteinia on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:37:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for voting, reflectionv37. And, telling (7+ / 0-)

    others how.

    We need to get out every Democratic vote we possible can this cycle.

    I agree with you about the importance of this race.  And, it's not just that I'm a Democrat and want us to win.  I think the GOP has stooped to such all time lows, in terms of deceptiveness, and so many others ways, we need the electorate to "refudiate" (as Sarah Palin would say) them, to uphold the integrity of our electoral process.  

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:30:38 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary, reflectionsv37! (6+ / 0-)

    Great GOTV action diary. I lived in Italy and then Germany for almost 4 years and met a lot of great American military and civilian folks. Though eligible to vote 3 of those years, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't. If they only had the internet back then! Now that outlanders can be told how easy it is to vote these days....

    Every vote counts as you can expect Republican dirty tricks around every corner.  

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 03:24:18 AM PDT

    •  Don't feel to bad about not voting... (4+ / 0-)

      I was out of the country and have to admit that I didn't vote against Bush in the 2000 election. I could have voted absentee, but I was so disgusted with the US and the embarrassment of the impeachment of Clinton, that I really didn't care what happened at that particular moment.

      Even though my vote would have been cast in California and wouldn't have changed the results, I've regretted not casting my vote. That won't happen again! Casting my vote last week felt great! I'll get my official ballot and fill that out and mail it in as required, but, even if it gets lost in the mail, my Federal absentee ballot, voting Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, will be counted.

      If only 1 or 2 others cast a vote because of this diary, it will have been worth the effort!

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 03:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Even residents can do something now (7+ / 0-)

    Request an absentee for a summer primary or local election. (Most places have something going.) That's the way you can double check that some $%^& hasn't popped you off the rolls.

  •  I don't know if I trust the system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mumtaznepal, reflectionsv37

    that much. You are voting very early; your vote is going to be sitting somewhere for a very long time before it is tabulated. I worry that the longer a vote is sitting around, the more the likelihood that it will be compromised, or lost, or changed, or something else nefarious. Maybe I'm completely wrong about this, but 4-5 months just seems very early to me to vote.

    •  well... (6+ / 0-)

      I think voting by mail is less desirable than casting a verifiable vote in person -- but obviously there isn't much that an overseas voter can do about that.

      Time definitely can be a concern, but it seems to me that in most jurisdictions, if they can secure a ballot for four days, they can secure it for four months. There might be some jurisdictions that don't get properly organized until closer to the election, but there shouldn't be. Maybe holding off for a while is slightly better.

      Otherwise, I think it's best for an overseas voter to vote as early as possible, because my guess is that a lot more overseas voters lose their votes because their ballots don't reach election officials (or the voters themselves) in time than because someone tampered with the ballots once they were returned. Voting early gives more time to follow up if something is going wrong.

      •  worrying about security (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I agree with the recommendation to go ahead and vote early if you wish to.

        I bet that a lot more votes aren't counted because they were mailed back just a little too late, and they weren't there by the deadline, than votes that weren't counted because someone in the elections office interfered with them.

        Besides, most overseas voters will likely mail in the official ballot, which will supersede the FWAB.

    •  I will still have the opportunity... (0+ / 0-)

      to vote using the official ballot. The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot will only be used if, for some reason, they do not receive my official ballot by the deadline.

      When the County Clerk in Hawaii receives my request and my FWAB, they are supposed to send me some tracking information by email so I can track my ballot. They should receive my information by the end of the week. It will be interesting to see how the tracking works!

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 02:24:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't vote early here in PA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North

    In fact, if TomCorporate had his way we wouldn't be allowed to vote at all.  He's certainly trying his hardest to make that happen.

    •  you could if you were an overseas voter from PA (3+ / 0-)
      Pennsylvania allows you to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) for voting in primary, special, and general elections for Federal, State, and local offices and non-candidate ballot issues in a Federal election year. If you are a registered overseas citizen or a registered/unregistered Uniformed Service members who has requested an absentee ballot, feel free to use the FWAB to vote anytime before the election.

      2012-13 Voting Assistance Guide (PA section), p. 269 (PDF p. 3)

      Obviously that doesn't pertain to most people. I'm just following up on the point of the diary.
    •  Reason for allowing you to vote early (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is a good reason to let you vote early by FWAB.

      Some voters are in areas where mail service is slow or unreliable. The official ballot has to reach the voter, and then return to the election officials by the deadline.

  •  Thanks for Being a Voter - and the good info! (3+ / 0-)

    I believe we help each other in times of need. I want all our children to get an excellent education. Every American deserves health care. I love my country. I am a patriot. I am a voter. I am a Democrat.

    by mumtaznepal on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 06:43:44 AM PDT

  •  And some states are already not counting votes!! (2+ / 0-)

    Congratulations, Reflections.  I'm glad to hear you have already cast your vote.

    Though you are not the only one thinking ahead to the coming presidential election.  Indeed, some states are already putting into place plans to stop people from voting and determining which votes should be dis-counted.

    Many states are putting into place new laws making it more difficult for eligible voters to cast votes.  Some states are already sending out notices to citizens saying they are not allowed to vote.  Some states are eliminating or limiting early voting.  Some states are decidieng they want to limit the number of absentee ballots they will count.  And lots of states are already purchasing those electronic voting machines that have no mechanism to verify the number of votes cast.

    Casting your votes is very important, but is only half the battle.  To count, you have to make sure your vote is counted.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 07:21:55 AM PDT

  •  The BEST way to vote is in the PRECINCT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Before there were paper trails, many election integrity activists recommended vote by mail, BUT if you can vote in your precinct you OUGHT to vote in there.

    Why vote in the precinct?

    Voting in the precincts dramatically increases the chances your vote will COUNT.

    Did you know that votes by mail are tabulated machines are are partisan owned and usually almost impossible to adequately audit?

    Did you know that votes by mail are required to verify the authenticity of your signature?  As a result, unlike a precinct, your votes are usually scanned through a machine (e.g., "Vote Remote") that can be calibrated tight or loose on matches and many votes get kicked out as not matched.  Theoretically many voting officials are supposed to notify if your ballot gets kicked out, but this law is not enforced in almost all cases.  

    There are about 30 other reasons why voting on absentee ballots is not a good idea.

    So, why opt for a 2d class method for voting when so much is at stake.

    The convenience and relief of your anxiety that you need to vote early are just not worth the price of possibly losing our democracy.

    Vote by mail worked when it was used for less than 1% of the votes and when it was used only for medical necessity or out of country votes.  Because even if 1% of the votes were corrupted, most of the time election of the true winner would still prevail.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 10:02:00 AM PDT

  •  huh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    reflectionsv37, TrueBlueMajority

    I've always found early voting to be....well what if something comes up that drastically affects who I would vote for?  Do I get to re-vote?

    •  With the Federal Absentee ballot... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North

      I voted Democrat for President, Senator and US Representative. I think it's safe to say that there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that would make me change that vote to republican!

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:03:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North

      The FWAB is just a provisional ballot that will be counted if I fail to return, or the post office loses my official ballot. I should receive the official ballot about 30 days before the election. If I return that ballot by the deadline, that will be the vote that counts.

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:06:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  early voting is only when you are sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reflectionsv37, True North

      if there is any chance that circumstances would change your mind, do not early vote.

      since there is literally nothing that could make me vote Republicon this year, I would cast my ballot now if I could

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:42:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re-voting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Actually, in a way, this can happen when you use the FWAB.

      If you mail in the FWAB as your back-up, then when you get the official ballot in the mail, you vote that and mail it back.

      The election officials compare the stack of FWABs (probably a small stack) to the incoming official ballots. If the official ballot arrives before the deadline, the FWAB is destroyed.

      I don't think you can do a second FWAB if you have second thoughts.

      But if your official ballot gets there before the deadline, that's the one that gets counted.

  •  Absentee ballot and mailed ballot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Reflections, you explained the FWAB—the federal absentee ballot—well, but there is one point I'd add, for emphasis.

    What does the voter do when the regular ballot arrives in the mail, if he or she has already sent in the FWAB?

    You vote the regular ballot and mail it in.

    This is not an attempt to vote twice, and there is no way your ballots will both be counted—so it is entirely legit.

    Election officials compare the FWABs they've received to the official ballots received. They will destroy the FWAB when they see your official ballot has arrived in time.

    They don't open the sealed envelope, so they won't see how you marked your ballot. They look at all the information you've put on the outer envelope that identifies you.

    You don't have to vote as early as reflections, but if you're at all worried about getting the official ballot in time, and getting it back in time, then the FWAB is a great back-up.

    •  Thanks for clarifying! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North

      I'm traveling around on a sailboat and am currently in Port Vila, Vanuatu where there is a reliable postal system. I voted the FWAB here so I could be assured that it will arrive and be counted.

      I'm not sure where I will be when I receive my actual ballot via email. By Hawaii's rules, I have to mail the official ballot back and I may not be in a location at that time where I can be assured my ballot will arrive before the deadline.

      By voting the FWAB, I'm as certain as I can be that my vote will be counted, even if my official ballot doesn't make it to Hawaii by the deadline. And just as you stated, when they receive my official ballot the FWAB will be destroyed and the official ballot counted.

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:16:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As an aside reflections, could you write a diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        True North, reflectionsv37

        on the logistics of cruising for those of us getting ready (FAIK, just me)?
        I read all the lit and cruising websites, but a known voice with muy cred might be able to fill out some missing pieces. Thanks IA for considering it.

        "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

        by Bluefin on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:56:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hope to do something like that in the future... (0+ / 0-)

          but in the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to use the Dkos message system and I'll happily reply!

          If I have one piece of advice it would be... Don't wait too long!!! You are never going to know everything you need to know before you go. Some of it you have to learn by doing it. And don't worry about making the boat "perfect". Just make sure she is seaworthy. You'll have plenty of time to work on the boat once your out cruising.

          When we left California for Mexico back in 1999, we still had a big bag full of parts for projects we hadn't completed. After about 6 months, we realized we really didn't even need to do most of them!

          Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

          by reflectionsv37 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:51:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  counter-intuitive part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I wanted to stress the point you'd made, because it seems so counter-intuitive to people—or possibly illegal—to put two voted ballots into the mail.

        I tell everybody that they can use the FWAB if they need to, so they'll know when the time comes, but that they're not just allowed to vote the official ballot and mail it in, but that's what election officials want them to do.

      •  So Hawaii isn't an email ballot state yet? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I recall that some states moved faster than others to introduce ballots that can be emailed to the voter, and even emailed or faxed back.

        Back when I was doing this work a few years ago, it was possible to fax a voted ballot in to Federal Voting Assistance Program, which would then send it on to the state. I can't remember if all states allowed this or just some.

        There was a potential loss of secrecy as some staffer had to collect the faxes and send them on. And voters might worry about possible loss.

        BUT someone who is sailing around the Pacific Islands might welcome this service if it enables one to cast a ballot in time to get counted.

        •  I should have some more information... (0+ / 0-)

          about this when Hawaii receives my paperwork. From what I read, I think they will only accept the official ballot by mail. If they can accept a signed scanned copy via Fax or email, I'll certainly send it that way. I'm not at all concerned about having my vote kept secret! I just want to make sure it counts!

          Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

          by reflectionsv37 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:45:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Voting address (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The website that takes you through the steps to register is a fantastic resource.

    I'm a Democrat Abroad. I volunteered to register voters in several elections. We had big books to cart along, which gave the pertinent information about every state's rules. The website is a big improvement and reaches far more people.

    The address that you need to have is the address of the last place you lived in the U.S.

    You don't have to had any connection to that house or place now.

    The house doesn't even have to exist. One of the trainers sent out to teach this course at the consulates in Canada told me that her favorite example was a house that is now under water, due to a new dam. But the local election officials consulted the old maps (when it was dry land) and worked out where it was and which C.D. it was in.

    They need the address just to put you in a congressional district.

    So before you start, reflect on what your last address was, and look it up if need be.

    If it was in a rural area, usually you can describe it—something like "on Bluebell Lane, two miles west of the intersection with Route 2."

    •  More great info! (0+ / 0-)

      And thanks for helping get others living abroad registered!! I have been passing the information on to all of my cruising friends out here. Fortunately, almost all of the are on the left side of the spectrum and I want to make sure they vote!

      Question for you. Although I consider Hawaii my home state now, I don't really have any tie to property there. I've often wondered if my Democratic vote my be more useful in another state like Florida, Ohio, Nevada or even Wyoming! Any idea what I might have to do to switch my voting home to another state?

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:23:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ruh-oh...wingnut cranial meltdowns in 3.2.1... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

      by Bluefin on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:51:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Everyone should talk to friends and family abroad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you know someone who will be living outside the U.S. at election time, talk about this with them.

    They may well be registered to vote already, but, if not, you can tell them about this website for voter registration.

  •  Don't do this yet! (0+ / 0-)

    if you live in a state that hasn't had its primary elections. For example, here in New York, we are electing the entire State Senate and Assembly and the primary isn't until Thursday, September 13. (I have no idea why it is on a Thursday this year; in 2001 a rescheduled election was on a Thursday because Tuesday was Rosh Hashanah.)

    •  The provisional ballot is only for the Federal... (0+ / 0-)

      election. I will still receive my ballot for the primary and will be able to vote in the primary. The FWAB is just a provisional ballot in case, for whatever reason, my official ballot doesn't arrive by the deadline. On the FWAB, you don't have to vote for a particular candidate by name. You just write-in Democrat, Democrat, Democrat and who ever ends up as the Democrat gets your vote.

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      by reflectionsv37 on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:07:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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