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Message for U.S. Citizens: Returning Your Ballot
September 21, 2020

United States Embassy in Helsinki, Finland
Message for U.S. Citizens: RETURNING YOUR BALLOT
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

Election Day is six weeks away!  By now, you have likely registered to vote and requested your ballot.  You may have even received it.  What’s next?  Here are answers to common questions we have been fielding from overseas voters like you.

Q:  Should I return my ballot my mail, email or fax?

A:  Elections are run at the state level, and each state has a unique process.  Follow the directions on the ballot you received, or learn about your state’s process at the Federal Voter Assistance Program site.

Q:  My state requires return by fax, and I don’t have access to a fax machine.  What should I do?

A:  As an overseas voter, you can use the DoD Fax Service.  Email your election materials to fax@fvap.gov and FVAP will fax them to your election official.

Q:  Can the embassy mail my ballot?

A:  Yes!  You may return a paper ballot to the U.S. Embassy Helsinki to be sent via the diplomatic pouch to a U.S. sorting facility.  Place your ballot in a postage paid return envelope or an envelope with sufficient U.S. postage.  Envelopes should be addressed to your local election office in the United States.  You may drop off your ballot during regular business hours (M-F, 08:00 am – 4:00 pm) at U.S. Embassy Helsinki, American Citizens Services, Gate A “Consular Entrance,” Itäinen Puistotie 14, 00140, Helsinki, Finland.

Q:  If returning my ballot by mail, do I have to pay for postage?

A:  You must pay for postage only if using a foreign postal service or a commercial courier service.  If you are using U.S. mail via the diplomatic pouch, then you can use the postage-paid template available on FVAP.gov.

Q:  When should I return my ballot?
A:  The recommended vote-by day for Americans living overseas is October 13, 2020, but the sooner, the better.  If using the diplomatic pouch option, please note that it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination.

Q:  The election is soon, and I still haven’t received my state ballot.  Am I out of luck?

A: You can still vote!  States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal offices. Most states allow you to confirm your ballot delivery online. However, if your ballot has not arrived, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as a backup to vote for federal offices.  (If your official absentee ballot arrives after you send in the FWAB, then you can fill out and send in the official ballot as well.  Your state will count only one.)

Q:  How can I check to make sure my ballot was received?

A:  Contact your election office directly to confirm that your form was processed successfully.

Q:  I want to vote but haven’t registered yet.  What should I do?

A:  Follow the steps at FVAP.gov.

For any remaining questions or concerns, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website or email VoteHelsinki@state.gov.

For further information:

U.S. Embassy Helsinki
Itäinen Puistotie 14B
00140 Helsinki


State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

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