U.S. citizens in Czechia still have time to return mid-term election ballots

Each state has different voting rules for people living abroad, and some states are still accepting ballot requests from registered voters.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 03.11.2022 13:48:00 (updated on 03.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

American citizens living abroad can vote in the mid-term federal elections, which take place on Nov. 8. While there is no presidential race this time, all of the seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate are up for grabs. The balance in both houses of Congress is very close, and a shift of just a few seats will make a big difference in how the political agenda is set for the next two years.

In the U.S., each state has different voting rules. People can only vote once, and only in the state where they have or had their last official residence. The non-partisan website Votefromabroad.org has a list of the rules for each state.

People living abroad need to register before each election and request ballots. In most states, it is too late to register to vote or to request a ballot. Some states, though, are still accepting requests for ballots from people who are registered. Alaska, for example, will accept requests by fax or email until Nov. 7 and email you a ballot. Florida will take fax or email requests right up to Nov. 8.

It is important to read the ballot instructions completely and follow them. Ballots can be rejected for being improperly marked, not placed in the correct envelopes, or not signed in the correct place. Some states require a witness to the voter’s signature.

There are also differences in when ballots will be accepted. Some states require that the ballot be received by Nov. 8, while others only require that it is postmarked by Nov. 8 and have a leeway of one or two weeks for it to arrive. No state accepts ballots postmarked after the date of the election.

For people who have received ballots, it is time to return them. Again, each state is different. A helpful guide to voting from the Czech Republic has been compiled by Democrats Abroad. The rules are the same no matter what party or candidate you vote for.

Different state-by-state rules

Some states that send ballots by email or fax also accept votes by email or fax (in addition to accepting ballots sent by mail). About two dozen states, though, only accept paper ballots sent by mail and do not offer a fax or email option.

Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Oklahoma allow for voting by fax in addition to voting by mail. If you can’t access a fax machine, there are ways to fax via computer through online fax services.

Email is an option in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Washington State, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wyoming.

States that allow only postal voting are Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

New Jersey allows email voting, but people must also send a matching ballot by mail.

You do not have to wait until Nov. 8 to mail the ballot back. International mail remains a bit slow, so if you have a ballot you should send it as soon as possible.

From the Czech Republic, you can mail your filled-in ballot from any Czech post office. If you want to send it by international priority, a Z stamp costs CZK 45. If you need to send it faster to ensure you make the deadline in your state, you can use a courier service such as FedEx or DHL.

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Another option is to drop off the filled-in ballots at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, but this does not ensure that they will get back to your state ahead of the deadline, because diplomatic pouch can be slower than regular mail.

According to Democrats Abroad, sealed ballots can be dropped off at the American Citizens Services unit any business day from 8:30 a.m. to noon or from 1 to 4 p.m. You will need some form of ID, preferably your U.S. passport.  

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