Patriotic Expatriates

There are thousands of American expats living in Chiang Mai and I’ll bet we probably all get asked many of the same questions about our status.  Here are some I’ve been asked:

  • Did you have to give up your citizenship?
  • Can you still draw Social Security?
  • Do you still have to pay income taxes?
  • Does expat mean you’re no longer patriotic?

So no, hell yes, it depends, and of course not.

It’s Expatriate, Not Ex-patriot

An expat (short for expatriate) is a person who lives outside their native country. A patriot is a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. The two are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, I could be described as a patriotic expatriate.

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As a patriotic expatriate,  I plan to exercise my fundamental right to vote on election day. Are you an American expat planning to vote on election day? If so, here are four steps to take, courtesy of the US Embassy and Consulate in Thailand.

Voting in 2018 US Elections

Your vote counts!  Did you know that many US elections for house and senate seats have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters?  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.

Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2018 US elections:

1. Request Your Ballot:  Complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).

You must complete a new FPCA after January 1, 2018 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2018 elections. The completion of the FPCA allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (President, US Senate, and US House of Representatives) including primaries and special elections during the calendar year in which it is submitted.  The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all US states and territories.

You can complete the FPCA online at www.FVAP.gov.  The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state.  We encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  Include your email address on your FPCA to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  Return the FPCA per the instructions on the website.  FVAP.gov will tell you if your state allows the FPCA to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature.  If you must return a paper version, please see below for mailing options.

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2. Receive and Complete Your Ballot:  States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections.  For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.

3. Return Your Completed Ballot:  Some states allow you to return your completed ballot by email or fax.  FedExIf your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can use international mail, a courier service such as FedEx or DHL, or you may also drop off completed voting materials at the US Embassy Bangkok or US Consulate Chiang Mai Monday-Friday 7:30-11:00am, except for the last Wednesday of the month and Thai and US holidays. Place your materials in a postage paid return envelope (available under “Downloadable Election Materials” on the FVAP homepage) or in an envelope bearing sufficient domestic US postage, and address it to the relevant local election officials.

 

4. New this year – email to fax service by FVAP! – the Federal email-logoVoting Assistance Program (FVAP) will provide an email-to-fax conversion service for voters who have difficulty sending election materials to States that do not accept emailed documents.  Get more information here.

 

Researching the Candidates and Issues:  Online Resources.  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 online.  You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, or search the internet to locate articles and information.  For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (vote@fvap.gov).  FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website, FVAP.gov.  If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the Voting Assistance Officer in Bangkok at VoteBangkok@state.gov or Chiang Mai at VoteChiangMai@state.gov.

Remember, your vote counts!        

Be absent but accounted for!

 

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