By Liz Brown
August 15, 2016
My name is Liz Brown, and I am a junior studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am writing to tell you about ABSENTEE VOTING! Being abroad is amazing and escaping the chaos of election season in the US is no small perk, but that doesn’t mean our right to participate is any less important. Particularly in this election, voter apathy from young people is NOT COOL; so don’t use the fact that you are MIA from the USA to shirk your duty. Below I’ve listed some tips and helpful advice I picked up from registering absentee just a few weeks ago. So, put down your croissant and GoPro and get ready to embrace DEMOCRACY!
- If you haven’t registered to vote, DO IT! I would recommend registering with your Durham address so that your vote counts in North Carolina—we are a swing state: YOUR VOTE COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE. If you don’t have a Durham address because, duh, you’re abroad, just put the 1700 Duke University Road, Durham, NC 27701 and you’re good to go.
- Once you are registered, go to the following link: https://www.fvap.gov/uploads/FVAP/Forms/fpca2013.pdf and fill out the form (print it front and back!). The form is fairly strait forward, but a few parts can be a bit confusing. If you want to know specifics for your state go to this link: https://www.fvap.gov/vao/vag and click on the state where you are registered on the map.
- Specifics if you are registered in NC: 1. You can enter your state-issued ID number OR the last four digits of your Social Security number, so don’t freak out if you don’t have both! 2. NC will send you your ballot by email, so no need to deal with snail mail if you are in a country where it can be unreliable! 3. In Block 7, put the address with which you registered to vote. For me, this was that Duke address I listed above. In Block 8, put your abroad address! If you don’t know it/don’t have one, I would suggest putting the address of your study abroad program office. This all shouldn’t be a huge deal if you get an email ballot, but always better safe than sorry when it comes to your right to vote!
- Fold the page in half and mail. Because you are already abroad, you will need to pay for international postage. Go to a local post office, buy a stamp, and send her off! Send it in to the Durham Board of Elections (if you are registered in NC) or the BOE wherever you are registered. These addresses can be found on the page linked above about state-specific info. The Durham BOE address is:
Durham County Board of Elections
P.O. Box 868
Durham, NC 27702-0868
- You won’t get any type of confirmation that your request has been received, so don’t freak out. If you’re like me and want some sort of thumbs up that your right to political participation won’t be ignored, you can email the BOE and confirm! After that, go enjoy abroad and wait for your ballot to come via email/mail/fax. Make sure you send it in by 7:30 PM on November 8! If you mail it, it must be received by 5 PM on the 9th day after the election, so plan accordingly.
I hope this outline was helpful and that you now feel more confident than ever that this election includes your voice! If you feel like this is too hard a) you’re wrong, b) it actually takes 5 minutes, and c) Facebook message me and I’ll do it with you. Enjoy abroad SO MUCH but don’t forget: your new cell phone number will last 4 months, this president will last 4 years…VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!