Voting for Military and Overseas U.S. Citizens

If you are a Massachusetts citizen, you have the right to vote in all elections, even if you are deployed, stationed outside the Commonwealth, or residing overseas.

Military voters, dependent family members of military voters, and overseas citizens are protected by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), a federal law which guarantees your voting rights.

If you are a military or overseas voter, you are exempt from voter registration requirements in Massachusetts. In order to get your ballot, you simply need to submit an absentee ballot application.

Military Voters

If you are a member of the United States military on active duty, or if you are the dependent family member of active duty personnel, you qualify to vote as a UOCAVA military voter.

Military voters who are stationed in Massachusetts have the option of registering to vote where they are stationed. Military voters who resided in Massachusetts before being called to active duty have the right to continue to vote from their Massachusetts address, as long as they do not register or vote elsewhere.

Eligible military voters include those on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard (including reservists), as well as members of the merchant marine.

Overseas Citizens

United States citizens who reside outside the United States may vote from their last residence in the country. If you are a United States citizen who has never resided in the country, your address for voting purposes would be your qualifying parent’s last address in the country. This address may differ from the address you use for other purposes.

Your local election official may ask for additional or supporting information to locate a record of your previous residence in their city or town.

Applying for your Ballot

Your absentee ballot application should be submitted to your local election official. Your absentee ballot application will be valid until December 31st of this year. Submit a new application each year in which you wish to vote.

The best application to use is the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which is an application designed by the federal government specifically for military and overseas voters.

Like other absentee voters, you also have the option of using the Massachusetts Absentee Ballot Application or any other written request for an absentee ballot.

Applications may be submitted by mail, e-mail, or fax. Your local election official must be able to view your hand-written signature. For e-mailed applications, you must submit a scan or other image of your application.

Voting

You will receive the same ballot as all other Massachusetts voters.

For federal elections, you can choose to receive your ballot by e-mail, fax, or mail. There is a space on the FPCA in which you can indicate how you would like to receive your ballot.

For federal elections, you may choose to return your ballot by mail, fax, or e-mail.

For city and town elections, you will receive your ballot by mail. If you do not receive your ballot in time, you have the option of submitting a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) by e-mail or fax.

Below is a table of deadlines for returning your ballot. Deadlines differ depending on the type of election and how you return it. All deadlines are Eastern Time.

Election Type

Mailed Inside USA

Mailed Outside USA

E-mailed/
Faxed

State/Federal

8 p.m.

Postmarked: Election Day
Received: 5 p.m., the 10th day after Election Day

8 p.m.

City

Close of polls

Postmarked: Election Day
Received: 5 p.m., the 10th day after Election Day

Close of polls

Town

Close of polls

Close of polls

Close of polls

Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a ballot of last resort. If you were not able to apply or receive your ballot in time, you may submit a FWAB.

The FWAB is a blank ballot, which you may use to vote for any candidates or ballot questions.

You may use a FWAB for any election, whether or not you have applied for a ballot. A FWAB may be submitted by e-mail or fax.

Resources

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a federal agency which exists to help military and overseas citizens exercise their voting rights. Visit www.FVAP.gov for information and forms, including the Federal Post Card Application and the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.