The US presidential election is on November 3, and although some US citizens live in Canada, they are still eligible to vote and encouraged to do so.
If you still need information on how to do so, here is a quick rundown:
How do you do register?
American citizens living abroad can register to vote and request their ballot online by visiting FVAP.gov.
Each state makes its own voting rules regarding mail-in absentee voting. Make sure to check the website of your state election office to find out how you can vote by mail from out of state. You can view your state specific voting guidelines here, by clicking on your state.
According to the US Embassy, you can get voting assistance from the Embassy in Ottawa or Consulates General in Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. Voters can also drop off your completed voting forms and ballots, addressed to your local election officials, at those locations.
U.S. Citizens in Canada: @FVAP recommends you vote and send back your ballot as soon as you receive it.
Check the deadline for your ballot based on your state here: https://t.co/6jKC8EgoHa
— U.S. Embassy Ottawa (@usembassyottawa) September 30, 2020
Okay I’m registered, now what?
Once registered, American voters will have their ballot mailed to them, at which point they can fill it out and mail it back (you can use a courier like FedEX or UPS, as well as Canada Post – but note: it does take one-two weeks for transit), or drop it off in person at any American Embassy or Consulate General in Canada by end of day on October 2.
US Mail via Embassy services:
The Embassy states you can download the postage paid envelope, address it to your county board of elections and drop it off at the:
- U.S. Embassy Ottawa: Monday-Friday between 9am and 3pm
- Consulate General Halifax: Monday-Friday between 12pm-4pm
- Consulate General Quebec: Monday-Friday between 9am-3pm
- Consulate General Montreal: Monday, Wednesday, Friday between 1pm-3pm
- Consulate General Toronto: Monday-Friday between 9am-3pm
- Consulate General Calgary: Monday-Friday between 9am-3pm
- Consulate General Vancouver: Monday-Friday between 9am-3pm
But what if I don’t receive my ballot in time?
With absentee voting week coming to a close on October 4, Americans abroad must act fast to get their ballots in, and have their votes counted.
“The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act voting process was designed to reduce obstacles for military and overseas voters,” said FVAP Director David Beirne. “We know the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional concerns for overseas voters about receiving and returning their voted ballots on time, and there are several ways to do both as quickly as possible.”
If there is not enough time for you to request and return your ballot before the election deadline, you should request a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot – a backup ballot that can be used if you do not receive your ballot in time. You can find the resources to do that here.
When should you have your ballot in by?
According to the US Embassy, they recommend that “if you plan to return your paper ballot to your election officials by dropping it off at the Embassy or one of the Consulates, please deliver your ballot to the Embassy or Consulate by October 13, to account for transit times between overseas posts and local voting districts.”
In-person registration for absentee voters in Toronto will not be taking place
As part of the NBA’s commitment to encourage civic engagement, volunteers were planning to be on site during the first week of October to assist American citizens living in the Toronto area with registering for absentee ballots. Unfortunately, due to pandemic restrictions concerning indoor gatherings, it was decided that hosting large groups of people at Scotiabank Arena was not appropriate at this time.
“I know firsthand how easy it is to register for an absentee ballot – I did it on my computer during our time in the NBA bubble and it was really fast and simple,” said Raptor’s head coach Nick Nurse.
“The government site walks you through the steps and it pretty much takes no time at all.”
And finally, remember, every vote counts.
“Many US elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%,” states the US Embassy.