EXPLAINED: What Americans in Switzerland should know about voting in the US election

If you are a US citizen living in Switzerland, you have the right to vote in the upcoming election in the United States. Here’s how you should go about it — fast.

EXPLAINED: What Americans in Switzerland should know about voting in the US election
US citizens in Switzerland have the right to vote in November. Photo by AFP

In just a few weeks, on November 3rd, voters in the United States will elect their new president — the incumbent Republican candidate Donald Trump or his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

The Local asked Liz Voss, vice-chair of Democrats Abroad Switzerland, for guidance on how American citizens living here can cast their overseas ballots.

This advice is valid for people of all political affiliations, not just Democrats. Here you can see what US Republicans are saying about overseas voters.

Request the ballot from your US state

If you haven’t already done so, ask for your Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) as soon as possible. This form serves as a voter registration and absentee ballot request. Usually it should be done in January, but if you haven’t yet, try to do it now through a non-partisan site, 

“If a voter is just now requesting their ballot, they should also complete and return a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). This form will serve as a provisional ballot and will only be counted if the official ballot is not received by the election office by their deadline”, Voss said.

She pointed out, however, that some states have already passed their registration and / or ballot request deadlines. You can select your state from the drop-down menu here to see all the applicable deadlines. 

Go online

Voss recommends electronic correspondence with your local election office, which means submitting the FPCA via email, receiving the ballot(s) via email or online portal, and returning the voted ballot(s) electronically as well.

“This year in particular, we are urging everyone to do as much  as possible online, due to the many delays in mail service into, out of, and within the US”, Voss said.

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can foreigners vote? 

Hurry up and vote

Ballots should be voted and returned as quickly as possible. “If your state allows electronic returns, please take advantage of this”, Voss said.

Some states permit voters to return their ballots via fax; if you don't have a fax machine, you can use an email-to-fax service, such as the one provided by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). 

“If your state requires that you return your ballot via post, we recommend sending it via priority mail and getting a tracking number. For those who are concerned about delays in the US Postal Service, courier service like DHL, FedEx, UPS can be used”, Voss said.

However, keep in mind that couriers cannot deliver to a Post Office Box, so be sure that you have the physical address for your election office.

“We are obviously very invested in making sure that as many US citizens living in Switzerland exercise their right to vote as possible”, Voss added.

How many US citizens are there in Switzerland?

There are no official numbers on how many Americans reside in Switzerland.

These numbers can change from one year to another, as some expatriates may be returning to the US, while new ones may be arriving.

Also, some Americans hold a dual US-Swiss nationality. They are not counted in Swiss statistics as foreigners, but if they maintain their US citizenship, they can still vote in the United States.


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