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Voting in the 2012 US elections

Wednesday, September 19, 2012    

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Q: I am a United States (US) citizen living in Jamaica. Can I vote at the US Embassy in Kingston on election day this year?

A: No, you cannot actually vote at the embassy on election day on November 6. However, if you plan ahead, the embassy can assist you in the absentee voting process so your ballot request and actual ballot can be sent to your local election official in the United States. We urge all US citizens age 18 and over residing in Jamaica to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The US has streamlined absentee voting procedures for US citizens living outside the United States. US citizens must first register to vote and request an absentee ballot from local election officials in their home state by completing a single form — the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).

Voters can visit www.FVAP.gov, where an on-line wizard walks voters through the process of completing and printing the FPCA. Most registered voters are able to send the printed and signed FPCA form via e-mail or fax to local election officials in the United States. First-time voters typically need to send in the signed, original form by mail. The US Embassy in Kingston also has blank copies of the FPCA available and can assist voters to return these postage-paid forms free of charge.

After completing and submitting the FPCA, your ballot will be delivered to you. US states will begin sending out ballots to overseas voters in late September. While each state has its own rules concerning voter registration and how absentee ballots are delivered, we recommend that you request your blank ballot be delivered to you by e-mail, if possible.

The embassy can mail your completed postage-paid ballot to your election official, or you can send it yourself through the Jamaican mail system if you attach sufficient postage. You may drop off voting materials for mailing any weekday that the Embassy is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

We urge all US citizens who need assistance with forms or ballots to contact the US Embassy in Kingston at VoteKingston@state.gov. Since voting rules vary by state, specific questions concerning your registration status and voting deadlines should go to your local election official.

For more information about American Citizen Services, please visit our website, http://kingston.usembassy.gov/service.html.

The US Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.

Send your questions to: editorial@jamaicaobserver.com and we will send them to the embassy.

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