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Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today

The 2020 US election is fast approaching. If you’re a US citizen abroad, and with the added concerns around Covid-19, this is certainly not the year to delay voting.

Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today
Ballot/FWAB State transmission methods (see full details from FVAP below)

Wherever you are, help is at hand. The Local has teamed up with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), which supports US citizens living abroad to vote absentee.

Hopefully, you’ve already requested your absentee ballot – that's the crucial first step, so do it right now if you haven't already. You still have time – and every state allows you to receive your ballot by email.

Once your ballot arrives, don’t hang on to it! Here are four reasons to return your ballot the moment it arrives in your hands – or your email inbox.

Quick! Find out how to vote absentee as a US citizen abroad while you still have time

1. To make sure your voice is heard

Are you one of the three million Americans abroad who is eligible to vote? Want to be certain your voice will be heard? Then, return your ballot immediately! Turnout among eligible overseas voters was only 6.9 percent in the 2016 US election – and even lower for the 2018 mid-terms.

Maybe you've got lost in the voting process? Don't worry. If you’ve requested a ballot but haven’t received it, ask your election office about its status. Hoping to save yourself some time by voting by email? See the map below or click here to check your options for returning your ballot (or your FWAB – more on that below) in your state – by email, fax or mail.

2. For peace of mind amid the pandemic …

Need or plan to return your ballot by mail? You have even more reason to act immediately.  You can contact your local post office about possible delivery delays due to Covid-19 (more information from FVAP here).

So, what if your state only allows mail-in ballots and you’re worried about delays? FVAP suggests seeing if you can send your ballot by diplomatic pouch from a nearby Embassy or consulate

You may also want to check the latest list of countries to which the United States Postal Service (USPS) has suspended mail due to the pandemic.

The final recommended vote-by-date from abroad is October 13. But why leave it so long? If you want to feel sure your vote will count, return your ballot now! 

Make your vote count: see FVAP's guidance on voting absentee from abroad

3. To get your “I Voted From Abroad” sticker! 

Voting absentee doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting one of those “I Voted” stickers. In fact, as an American abroad who played your part in the democratic process, you can get a special version reading: “I Voted From Abroad”.

You can display it on social media to let your friends and family know you voted. Perhaps your sticker will even motivate others to vote too.

4. Because you have a ready-made back-up plan

Are you running out of time? You can’t always count on everything working out as you expect. But when it comes to voting as an American abroad, you get a ready-made back-up ballot – so even if your requested ballot doesn’t arrive, you can still vote.

It’s called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Use this if your regular ballot doesn’t reach you in good time. A few states may allow you to vote via FWAB even if you haven’t already applied for a regular ballot.

Running out of time to return your ballot? Find out more about voting with the FWAB

 

NORWAY

Norway Uni pulls coronavirus message citing ‘poorly developed’ US health system

One of Norway's leading universities has been forced to change a message warning overseas students of the US's "poorly developed health services", after it was dragged into a storm of criticism on social media.

Norway Uni pulls coronavirus message citing 'poorly developed' US health system
Norwegian University of Science and Technology is one of Norway's leading universities. Photo: NTNU
Over the weekend, the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology posted a message on its Facebook page for its students on international postings,  advising them to heed the latest advice from Norway's foreign ministry on the coronavirus pandemic, and return back to Norway. 
 
“This applies especially,” the message said, “if you are staying in a country with poorly developed health services and infrastructure and/or collective infrastructure, for example the USA.” 
 
But on Monday, after a storm of social media criticism, the message was changed, stripping out all mention of the US. 
 
Anne Dahl, communications advisor for the university's rector, told state broadcaster NRK that the university had decided to change the post because the furore was distracting people from the serious underlying message. 
 
“We do not want the expression of a single phrase to overshadow important information, so the specific wording about the US was removed,” she wrote in an email. 
 
The original wording was quickly picked up by Twitter commentators in the US. 
 

It then got viral news coverage, with both conservative outlets like Fox News, and left-of-centre newspapers like the UK's Independent picking up the story. 
 
Several people flocked to the original post to attack the university in the comments. 
 
 
 
 
The post was then changed on Monday to remove all reference to the US. 
 
 
 
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