Information for American citizens on overseas absentee voting, including voter registration and ballot requests, can be found at http://www.fvap.gov/.
The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin is available to answer questions and provide federal forms and information on state and local election forms. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call (229) 21 30 06 50 or send an e-mail to Consularcotonou@state.gov.
FINAL OPPORTUNITIES TO RETURN VOTED BALLOTS – 24 OCTOBER 2012
Embassies and consulates are not polling places. The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 6. U.S. citizens who want to participate in the 2012 U.S. elections should already have returned their absentee ballots to their local election officials. U.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.
Ballot not yet sent to local election officials? All voters who wish to participate in this election who have not yet sent their ballots to their local election officials should consider returning their ballot to the United States via an express courier service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL. Some states or counties may allow you to return your voted ballot electronically. Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance.
Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax. The following states allow voters to use email or fax to send signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to local election officials: Arizona, California (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance.
Returning ballots via express courier service. Voters can hire express courier companies such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx to return voted ballots. Through October 31, FedEx is offering discounted shipping for last-minute voters in 94 countries through the Express Your Vote program https://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/overseas/ExpressYourVote.htm. Ballots sent to local election officials via express courier service do not receive standard postmarks, so voters using this method should confirm delivery on or before November 6 prior to payment and shipment.
Returning your ballot by mail. Ballots sent via mail at this late date are unlikely to reach local election officials by state ballot receipt deadlines. If you still wish to send your voted ballot via mail, place your voted ballot in a U.S. postage-paid envelope addressed to your local election officials. Drop it off at the Embassy and we’ll send it back home for you without the need to pay international postage. If you can’t visit the Embassy in person, ask a friend or colleague drop it off for you. If it’s easier for you to use Benin’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.
Postage-paid envelopes containing your ballot can be brought to the Embassy during normal American Citizen Services hours – Tuesdays from 10:30am to 12:00pm and Thursdays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Remember that transit times via the diplomatic pouch are typically two to three weeks from Cotonou to Virginia and allow additional time for your forms and ballots to reach their final destinations via the U.S. Postal Service. Ballots that have not already been sent are unlikely to arrive in time if they are sent using the diplomatic pouch.
Have Questions? Please contact Cotonou’s Voting Assistance Officer at (229) 21 30 06 50 or at email@example.com.
Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online. Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov.
2012 ELECTION CYCLE
Be an active voter. Start thinking about your participation in the U.S. 2012 elections today!
The Consular Section staff at U.S. Embassy Cotonou is ready to assist with completing your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) -- the form you need to complete this year to participate in the 2012 elections as an overseas absentee voter. Our purpose is to inform and educate you about your voting rights, to ensure you are able to exercise your right to participate in elections for federal offices (President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative), and to assist you with voting in state or local elections, if allowed by your state.
New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections. You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request. All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in the 2012 primary and general elections must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election. No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line. Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it. Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) website www.FVAP.gov.
Beginning in January 2012, presidential primaries will be held in the states of New Hampshire (January 10), South Carolina (January 21), Florida (January 31), Missouri (February 7), Wisconsin (February 21), Arizona (February 28), and Michigan (February 28). Other states will follow throughout the spring and summer. Voter registration deadlines for primaries are as early as January 3, 2012. Note: Participation in party presidential caucuses by overseas voters is not protected by federal law and requires in-person attendance in most cases. If the party you are affiliated with selects presidential nominees by caucus in your state contact state party officials for further information.
You can obtain a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP’s website. The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories. 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. An online wizard will help you complete the form. Depending on your state’s voting requirements, you then either send in the FPCA electronically or mail it to your local election officials. To mail it, print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. If you bring in your forms or ballots to us we will mail them back home for you without you having to pay for international mail. If it’s easier for you to use Benin’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.
Official election ballot envelopes that bear postage-paid markings can be returned via U.S. diplomatic pouch or Military Postal Service free of charge. You can also print out and use an envelope with postage-paid markings that is available on the FVAP web site. You must submit your forms or ballot in person to the U.S. embassy. You can bring them during normal American Citizen Services hours – Tuesdays from 10:30am to 12:00pm and Thursdays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Transit times via the diplomatic pouch are typically two to three weeks from Cotonou to Virginia. Please allow additional time for your forms and ballots to reach their final destinations via the U.S. Postal Service.
Even if your state does not have a presidential primary in the early months of 2012, it is important that you submit a new Federal Post Card Application this and every January to receive all absentee ballots for which you are eligible. By applying early, you also allow enough time for election officials to contact you and resolve any questions or problems with your registration/ballot request.
Remember that your vote counts, and that 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's valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Be an Educated Voter. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such asProject Smart Voter. You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the Internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP's Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook andTwitter.
If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact U.S. Embassy Cotonou’s Voting Assistance Officer at (229) 21-30-06-50 or at email@example.com.