Jen and I very much enjoy living in South Korea. There’s great food, cherry blossoms, and excellent public transportation. But being an expat makes you keenly aware of your nationality, and we find that we are very American in our day to day lives in Korea.
Though we live outside the US, we think ourselves civic-minded people, and we both care very deeply about issues back home. Recently, we each submitted absentee ballots for the November 6, 2018 elections for the places where we are registered and wanted to share the easy process we took to vote while abroad.
register or check registration status
If you’re living abroad, you can register as an absentee voter in your last state of residence or at a permanent address in the US. Before moving from Rhode Island to Korea, Jen and I updated our driver’s licenses, banking, and other documentation to our parents’ homes. We used vote.org to confirm our registration. If you’re an overseas voter and need to register or are unsure about your registration status, this non-partisan site is a good resource. States have different deadlines for registering and voting absentee, so make sure to check that whether you’re voting absentee, early, or in person on an election day.
obtain a ballot
Once we confirmed our registration, we used an election official database at the Overseas Voter Foundation to contact the representative in the county we were each registered in and obtain our ballots. Different states and counties have different systems for sending out an absentee ballot, but the office of your local election official should help you obtain a ballot in whatever form the locality uses. Jen’s was an electronic ballot. Mine had to be mailed.
fill out ballot
Vote your conscience on any and all elections and ballot initiatives in your precinct. Some important issues to Jen and me are the opportunity gap/institutionalized discrimination, gun laws, and the social safety net; we vote on candidates and ballot questions based on these and other considerations.
complete all requirements given and submit
Whether you submit by mail or electronically, there will likely be some steps to complete to prove your identity and ensure that your ballot is counted. I had to sign a document to submit with my mail-in ballot. With all requirements completed, we sent out paper and electronic ballots. No “I voted” stickers, but we had them in spirit.
It’s seemed like a decade since the 2016 election for us, and if you feel similarly, the road to the 2020 election will be long as well. In that time, we plan to stay involved and up to date on things going on back home in the civic and political arenas. Towards that end, here are some people we like to follow from our current home abroad: 1, 2, 3, 4.