7 FAM 1500†
Overseas voting program
7 FAM 1510†
(Office of Origin:† CA/OCS)
7 fAM 1511 †SUMMARY
a. The U.S. Department of State is required to work with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) under the Department of Defense (DoD) to assist millions of military and civilian voters residing abroad who may be eligible to vote in Federal elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), 52 U.S.C. Chapter 203.† The Secretary of Defense has been designated by the President to have primary responsibility for Federal functions under UOCAVA.† The Department of State assists the Secretary of Defense in carrying out these functions with respect to U.S. civilians overseas.
b. Role of the Department of Defense:† The Department of Defense plays a vital role in assisting U.S. citizens abroad to exercise their right to vote through the Federal Voting Assistance Program.† DoD is charged with assisting deployed members of the military and their dependents with voting, as well as with training and liaising with state and local election officials and maintaining and producing up to date information on state voting laws and requirements.† Through the Department of Justice, FVAP ensures that states are compliant with applicable military and overseas voting laws.
c.† Role of the Department of State:† The Department of State is delegated responsibility for providing voting assistance to all private and official overseas U.S. citizens that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense. DoS Voting Assistance Officers and staff are charged with providing non-partisan information on how overseas U.S. citizens can participate in U.S. elections, and assisting overseas U.S. citizens with the completion and transmission of absentee voting forms and ballots.† Voting Assistance Officers have voting assistance responsibilities during election and non-election years alike.
d. FVAP.gov:† The primary resource for both private U.S. citizens who wish to vote and Department of State Voting Assistance Officers is the Federal Voting Assistance Program website www.FVAP.gov.† The website contains an online assistant to help private U.S. citizens complete voter registration forms, absentee ballot requests, and emergency write-in ballots, links to state election and voter registration verification websites, as well as important dates and state specific instructions.† For Department of State Voting Assistance Officers, the website contains the required voting assistance officer training, downloadable voting forms, downloadable motivational voting materials for use in Voting Outreach events, contact information for all state and local election officials, as well as information on applicable overseas voting laws and FVAP.
e. Voting laws and procedures vary from U.S. state to U.S. state complicating the role of a voting assistance officer.† Whenever possible, voting assistance officers should consult the current state specific requirements on FVAP.gov, when that is not available or not practical Voting Assistance Officers should consult the Voting Assistance Guide (VAG) published by the Department of Defense (DoD) every two years.†
f.† Contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program:
U.S. Toll-free Telephone:† 800-438-8683
FAX:† 703-588-0108 FVAP toll free international telephone/FAX numbers
7 FAM 1512 †AUTHORITIES
a. The legal authority for U.S. citizens abroad to vote absentee in U.S. elections is found at the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), as amended, 52 U.S.C. †20301 et seq., and in State election laws.
b. Authority to implement the UOCAVA is found at:
(1)† Executive Order 12642 of June 8, 1988, 53 FR 21975 (6/10/88) designating the Secretary of Defense with primary responsibility for Federal functions under the Act;
(2)† DOD Directive (DODD) 1000.4, Federal Voting Assistance Program; and
c.† Authority for consular officers to conduct voting related activities abroad is derived from Article 5(f) and Article 5(m) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and similar provisions in bilateral consular conventions.† See Treaties in Force and the CA/OCS Intranet Treaties feature.
VCCR Article 5 on consular functions include:
(f)† Acting as notary and civil registrar and in capacities of a similar kind, and performing certain functions of an administrative nature, provided that there is nothing contrary thereto in the laws and regulations of the receiving State.
(m)† Performing any other functions entrusted to a consular post by the sending State which are not prohibited by the laws and regulations of the receiving State or to which no objection is taken by the receiving State or which are referred to in the international agreements in force between the sending State and the receiving State.
7 FAM 1513 †Role of the Consular Officer Regarding Voting Assistance
Required Voting Assistance Officer (VAO) Actions
1.† Global e-mail address:
CA-Voting-Assistance-Officers@state.gov:† CA/OCS/ACS uses this address to provide guidance to all overseas posts.† All voting-related messages are sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org distribution lists (e.g., voteParis@state.gov, voteDubai@state.gov.† Consular officers must ensure that there is at least one consular officer and one locally employed staff member on distribution at all times.† These email@example.com email distribution groups should be synced globally and configured to receive emails from both within and outside the Department.† If you are concerned you are not receiving voting guidance please check the properties of your distribution group in the GAL and confirm that it's listed as a member of CA-Voting-Assistance-Officers@state.gov.† If you have questions you can direct them to VotingInfo@State.gov.
2. Required VAO training:† All officers and LES providing Voting Assistance are required to complete the online FVAP Voting Assistance Officer Training once an election cycle (every two years).
3.† Voting Action Plans and Voting Measurables Reports:† Leading up to and over the course of an election year, every post will be tasked with completing a Voting Action Plan and periodic Voting Measurables Reports, see 7 FAM 1350 for details.
a. Specific responsibilities for Voting Assistance Officers (VAO) and voting assistants (VA) may vary by post, but generally you should:
(1)† Educate yourself:† Familiarize yourself with FVAP.gov and how to use FVAP's online Assistant to complete the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA, and the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB).† Review the Consular Affairs Voting Information on CAWeb, particularly the Voting FAQs and Voting Toolkit which included Town Hall Talking Points, Pre-Cleared posts for social media, and examples of Voter Outreach Events.
(2)† Start early/prepare a voting action plan:† VAOs have responsibilities year round even in years without elections for federal office.† While Federal Law only requires the Department of State to assist voters with participating in elections for Federal Office (U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, President and Vice President), it is Department of State policy to assist overseas U.S. citizens with state and local elections, including special, primary, and run-off elections.† This means at any time of year you may receive requests for voting assistance.† To be an effective VAO, you should have your voting action plan in place a full year in advance of an election.† In off election years you may need to make preparations for presidential or midterm election years including budgeting funds for election year outreach events, ordering free motivational materials, providing input on the FVAP in-person Voting Assistance Workshop calendar, and assisting voters who wish to participate in State, local, and special elections.
(3)† Develop a Voting Assistance network:† Identify large populations of potential voters, large employers of U.S. citizens, colleges and universities hosting study abroad programs, religious organizations and institutions, parents groups associate with the English language school, private U.S. citizens groups and U.S. political parties.† Try to identify a point of contact at every organization and stay in touch.† Also ensure that everyone at post knows who you are; the ambassador, the pouch room, public diplomacy section, security guards, receptionists, and other locally employed staff (LE staff) so they can refer inquiries to you:
(a)† Identify and train voting volunteers in the private U.S. community who can help you disseminate voting information.† Provide them with VAGs, motivational posters, calendars and Federal Post Card Applications (FPCAs) (see 7 FAM 1520); and
(b)† Recruit volunteers from the U.S. citizen community to help with your voting events.† Develop and implement an outreach program to educate potential voters; the official U.S. Government community, corporations, Peace Corps volunteers, overseas schools, study overseas programs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other groups comprised solely or in part of U.S. citizens.† (See 7 FAM 070); and
(4)† Disseminate information:† Alert U.S. citizens of deadlines for registration and mailing in their ballots.† Assist them in understanding their voting rights and how to vote absentee under UOCAVA:
(a)† Provide accurate, nonpartisan voting information and assistance to potential voters.† Your understanding of the registration and absentee voting procedures and your ability to direct people to online resources may well determine whether or not your fellow citizens participate in the electoral process;
(b)† Unless messages are pre-cleared by the voting action officer in Washington use MASCOT Messages for U.S. citizens sparingly to avoid message fatigue;
(c)† Disseminate information via your post's Twitter and Facebook pages.† Pre-cleared social media posts are available in the Voting Toolkit on CAWeb.
(d)† Create and maintain a voting section on your postís website and ensure that the information is up to date;
(e)† Include voting outreach in your postís annual budget; and
(f)†† Keep a record of your voting assistance efforts.† The statistics will be extremely useful when preparing your post-election report and consular package.
(5)† Ensure that all officer and LE staff have completed the online FVAP Voting Assistance Officer Training once an election cycle (every two years).
b. Voting assistants (VAs):† Voting assistants are usually LE staff, consular associates, and consular assistants who help the voting assistance officer run an effective voting assistance program in the consular district. †As a voting assistant, under the guidance of the VAO, you should:
(1)† Complete the online FVAP Voting Assistance Officer Training once an election cycle (every two years).
(2)† Familiarize yourself with the Voting Assistance Guide:
(a)† Refer procedural issues or questions not covered on FVAP.gov to the Voting Action Officer VotingInfo@state.gov;
(b)† Direct legal questions about voting activities to CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov).† As appropriate, CA/OCS/L will confer with the Office of the Legal Adviser and Federal and State authorities.† Legal questions about voting include but are not limited to ethics questions about voting activities abroad involving post personnel or facilities.
(c)† If you have questions about actions by state or local election officials in the U.S. you can direct your inquiry to the Voting Action Officer (VotingInfo@state.gov) or the Federal Voting Assistance Program directly by emailing Vote@FVAP.gov.
(3)† Assist U.S. citizens living abroad in the voting process and voting absentee under UOCAVA:
(a)† Direct them to FVAP.gov to complete required forms; and
(b)† Alert them to the deadlines for registration and mailing ballots for their state;
(c)† If voters come into the consular section and request assistance in registering to vote, direct them to computers in the waiting area where they can complete the forms for free.† If computers are not available in the waiting area but you have an English language library or other facility where voters can access the internet for free, refer them there. If you do not have an option where voters can complete and print voting forms for free, either assist them completing the forms through the window or print a copy of the forms with a copy of their state's specific instructions.† Never turn someone away from the consular section during public hours without providing them an option to complete the voting forms on their first visit.
(4)† Maintain a paper or electronic list of your voting network, voting volunteers and contacts in the U.S. citizen community and a record of U.S. citizen community outreach efforts;
(5)† Monitor postís voting supplies; order all supplies as necessary, see 7 FAM 1520;
(6)† Disseminate information about state and national primary and general elections to your voting network to amplify your message;
(7)† Post State and national primary and general election notices in the American Citizen Services (ACS) waiting room area.† Include your section telephone number, e-mail address, hours open to the public, and any outreach activities scheduled;
(8)† Include upcoming election information in your monthly consular newsletter if your section sends one out.
7 FAM 1514 †Role of CA/OCS/ACS
a. The Chief Voting Action Officer in the Office of American Citizens Services (CA/OCS/ACS) oversees the Departmentís Voting Assistance Program (VAP) and provides guidance and disseminates information to posts regarding absentee voting by U.S. citizens living abroad.† The Chief Voting Action Officer serves as liaison with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) headquarters at the Department of Defense.
b. The role of the Chief Voting Action Officer is to:
(1)† Serve as a liaison between the Federal Voting Assistance Program and consular voting assistance officers;
(2)† Provide guidance to VAOs and VAs in understanding their roles and responsibilities;
(3)† Help posts develop voting action plans;
(4)† Advise posts of general voting laws and/or criteria and subsequent changes;
(5)† Provide accurate nonpartisan voting information for posts to disseminate to U.S. citizens living abroad;
(6)† Send out periodic announcements for dissemination through Citizen Liaison Volunteers and other networks about upcoming elections, changes in State procedures for registration and submission of registration forms and ballots;
(7)† Advise posts about voting reporting requirements;
(8)† Provide guidance to Voting Assistance Officers and voting assistants on ordering forms and obtaining supplies;
(9)† Coordinate with FVAP for the delivery of voting materials each election cycle; and
(10) Inform and remind posts about outreach programs.
7 FAM 1515 †Role of CA/OCS/L
The Office of Legal Affairs (CA/OCS/L) is the Departmentís liaison with other Federal, State and local agencies regarding legal and policy issues concerning absentee voting abroad and the enforcement of applicable laws.† Send legal questions on voting issues to CA/OCS/L by e-mail (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov).
7 FAM 1516 through 1519 †UNASSIGNED