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Message for U.S. Citizens: Vote in the 2020 Election!

September 14, 2020

U.S. citizens in the DRC who intend to vote by absentee ballot in the U.S. federal elections on November 3 should mail their absentee ballots as soon as possible and before September 30 to allow for transit time. It’s not too late but act now!

You may send election material directly or bring your ballot to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa for free mailing to the United States.

U.S. EMBASSY KINSHASA: You can drop off completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, at the U.S. Embassy Kinshasa’s main visitor entrance at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs (not consular entrance) during the following hours:  Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 17:15 and Friday 07:30 – 13:00.

  • The ballot drop box is located inside the main visitor entrance at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.
  • The U.S. citizen (while wearing a mask) will present their U.S. passport to the guards at the entrance.
  • The ballot will be scanned by the X-Ray in the citizen’s presence before being handed back over for the citizen to place in the locked box.

HOW TO VOTE USING THE EMERGENCY BACK-UP BALLOT (FWAB)

Is there a possibility your official ballot will not get to you in time to meet the ballot return deadlines?

VOTE NOW using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  This emergency backup ballot is for overseas voters!  Fill in the FWAB at fvap.gov.

NOTE:  The following states require you to register and request an absentee ballot before filling out the form for the FWAB: AL, AK, AR, CT, FL, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, PR, RI, SD, TX, WI, WV, and WY.

STEP I. Send in your ballot request form (the Federal Post Card Application or FPCA):

Overseas voters need to submit a Ballot Request form every calendar year.  Whether you are a first-time voter or have voted in the past, you must complete a new FPCA to vote.

To fill out and submit your Ballot Request form, click here.

After you send it in, please be sure to verify with your Local Election Official (LEO) that they received your Ballot Request form and will send out your official ballot. You can find the contact information on the State Voting Guide here and at fvap.gov.

STEP II. Fill out and Send in Your Emergency Back-up Ballot (the FWAB):

  1. Go to this website and follow the prompts to Fill in the FWAB
  2. The website may fill in the candidates for you to choose from. But if it does not, you can type in the candidate’s name or the political party. NOTE: To find the candidates and races on your ballot, use the Sample_Ballot_Lookup
  3. Follow the instructions to download the PDF containing your completed FWAB and Instructions. You can also download envelope templates if you return your ballot by postal mail.
  4. Print out the completed FWAB and the other documents you downloaded. Then read and carefully follow the instructions to SUBMIT the required materials to your LEO.

To Return by Fax or Email: The Instructions will indicate if your state will accept the FWAB by Email or Fax. We recommend you do so to ensure it will be received by the deadline.

  • If your state only allows return by Fax (not Email) and you don’t have access to a fax machine, there are apps that will convert an email attachment to a fax. Scan in your FWAB and any required materials as an email attachment, then search for “fax app for Android/iPhone.” Follow the instructions to convert your email attachment to a fax transmission.
  • Or you can use the Fax service through the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP.gov). You will need to email your FWAB and any required supporting materials (see your state’s instructions) to [email protected] using the FVAP fax transmission coversheet at [www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms], (scroll to the bottom of the page). FVAP will then fax your election materials to your Local Election Office.

Return by Mail: If you choose–or if your state requires you–to return your FWAB by postal mail, please follow the instructions carefully.

Two envelopes are required:

  • “Ballot Security Envelope”–to hold your completed FWAB ballot, and
  • “Mailing Envelope”–to send in your sealed Ballot Security Envelope as well as the supporting materials with your identifying information.
  • Remember, you must affix postage!

When the Mailing Envelope reaches the Election Office, they will separate the Ballot Security Envelope from the supporting materials to maintain ballot secrecy.

If you wish, you can follow the instructions to download envelope templates to affix to blank envelopes. If you have your original signed Ballot Request form, include it in the outer “Mailing Envelope.”

*IMPORTANT: If you receive your official ballot after submitting your FWAB, you may complete and return your official ballot as well. It’s okay–only one ballot per person will be counted. If both your FWAB and your official ballot arrive before the deadline, federal law provides that only your official ballot will be counted and your FWAB will be discarded.

Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov. If you need help with the absentee voting process, please go to FVAP.gov or call 703-588-1584 (toll free 1-800-438-VOTE or DSN 425-1584) or email ([email protected]).  If you have questions about voting from the DRC, please contact U.S. Embassy Kinshasa’s Voting Assistance Officer at  [email protected].

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