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Message for U.S. Citizens – Absentee Voting Week is September 27 – October 4, 2020
September 14, 2020

Message for U.S. Citizens – Absentee Voting Week is September 27 – October 4, 2020 (September 14, 2020)

Be an Active Voter by taking the necessary steps to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections and participating in Absentee Voting Week!

In preparation for Absentee Voting Week, U.S. Embassy Madrid and U.S. Consulate General Barcelona will be hosting a Facebook Live event on September 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm.  Please join this live summary of the process for voting overseas, with a Q&A session with members of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Spain and Andorra.

In some states voter registration and ballot request deadlines for the November 2020 are as early as October 5th.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, we recommend that you complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)  each year to ensure you are able to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

If you have already completed a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2020 and requested electronic delivery of your ballot, you will be receiving your blank ballot or instructions for how to access your ballot soon if you have not already received it.  If you are not sure about the status of your absentee ballot request you should contact your local election officials in the United States or check the status of your registration via your state’s voter registration verification website.

You can get voting assistance from the Embassy or Consulate General by emailing VoteMadrid@state.gov or VoteBarcelona@state.gov.  You can also drop off your completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, by following the procedures in section 4, below, to be returned to the United States via the diplomatic pouch.  Normal transit time from Spain to the United States is 2-4 weeks.  Please remember that ballots must either be in postage-paid envelopes or have sufficient U.S. postage as they enter the U.S. mail system once in the United States.


Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting.

If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late. The process is easy — just follow these steps:

  1. Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)
    Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted absentee in past elections, we recommend that you complete an FPCA to receive your ballot this fall.  It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year in which you submit the FPCA.  Local election officials in all U.S. states and territories accept the FPCA.
    The online voting assistant available at FVAP.gov is an easy way to complete the FPCA.  It will ask you questions specific to your state and tell you if electronic ballot delivery is possible.  No matter which state you vote in, we encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Be sure to include your email address to take advantage of electronic delivery.  The online voting assistant will generate a printable FPCA, which you can then print and sign.
  2. Submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA)
    Nearly all States allow you to submit your FCPA electronically.  If you prefer to submit it by mail, you may do so through the Embassy, the Consulate General, or one of our Consular Agencies, using the same procedures described below about returning ballots.
  3. Receive Your Ballot
    After submitting your FPCA, most states allow you to confirm online your registration and ballot delivery selection. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election (September 19) for federal office (President, U.S. Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives) to any overseas U.S. citizen who has completed an FPCA.
  4. Return Your Ballot
    If you plan to return your paper ballot to your election officials via the Embassy in Madrid, the Consulate General in Barcelona, or one of the Consular Agencies in Spain: We encourage you to return your ballot to us by October 2 to allow for transit times between overseas posts and local voting districts. We will continue accepting ballots after that date, but transit time can be 2-4 weeks.  If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you, place it in either a postage-paid envelope or envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage, addressed to your local election officials. You can download the postage paid envelope from the FVAP.gov website.
  • If you are sending your ballot through the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, ballots can be dropped off at the American Citizen Services unit between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., except for U.S. and local holidays
  • If you are sending your ballot through the U.S. Consulate General Barcelona, ballots can be dropped off at the Consulate General between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., except for U.S. and local holidays.
  • If you are sending your ballot through one of the U.S. consular agencies, send an email to the agency located closest to you to schedule an appointment.
  • Please review our Health Alert for Catalonia for information about mask requirements for visiting the Consulate General and our Health Alert for Madrid for information about mask requirements for visiting the Embassy.

If there isn’t enough time to receive and send back your ballot before the election, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). It is a backup ballot you can use if you don’t receive your ballot in a timely manner. If your official absentee ballot arrives after sending in the FWAB, fill out and send in the official ballot too. Only one will be counted.

After you send in your ballot, you can check if it was received by your election office.

Your Vote Counts

Many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline (differs by state).

Be an educated voter.  Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues.   You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, and search the Internet to locate articles and information.

To receive information by email about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov).  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.