US Citizens, vote in the 2020 election from Panama!
If you are a US Citizen living in Panama here is how to vote in the 2020 US election.
US Citizens living abroad are covered by different voting rules than regular absentee voters. Under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), voters have the ability to request that their 2020 ballot be delivered to them via email on September 19 (45 days before the election) which is earlier than US-based absentee voters.
With problems at the US Postal Service though, time is getting short. If you have registered in your state as an absentee ballot, you may reregister as an overseas voter to receive your ballot on September 19. Start at the non-partisan www.votefromabroad.org or www.FVAP.gov These sites answer all the questions for your local jurisdiction. Choose email as your preference to receive your ballot. Postal mail is a poor option this year.
Many states allow that ballot requests and even ballots to be returned via email. However, 22 states still require ballot requests, and ballots, be returned via the mail.
If you vote in one of the states that requires a “wet signature” physical registration and/or ballot, the US Embassy in Clayton will forward all voting materials via the Diplomatic Pouch. This is not a rapid delivery service, so you need to return your ballot request as soon as possible to the embassy.
You may personally send your ballot request to the embassy via DHL or drop it off in person. They are indicating that it will take 4-5 weeks for your ballot request to reach your local election official so you should start today. This is not free and you can gather a few requests in the same envelope to reduce the cost. Alternatively if you know someone with a Salvoconducto, you may ask that person to bring your ballot request(s) to the embassy directly.
Once you have returned your ballot request and it has been accepted, every state will send your 2020 ballot via email on September 19. If you are in one of the states that allows digital ballot submission, you should vote and return your ballot as quickly as possible. For those in the 22 states that only allow mailed ballots, you should vote and sign your ballot, and prepare it for mailing. Put a US stamp on the sealed enveloped (two is safer!), and then you can either DHL it to the US Embassy in Panama (must be received by October 1 to allow for 4-5 weeks delivery estimate!), or send it directly to your Local Election Office by DHL. The address of your specific DHL will be on the ballot you receive on September 19 by email.
After September 28 there may be the possibility to express mail back to the US or to give to someone who is traveling back to the US before the election if allowed by specific state regulations.
Americans who vote in the following states can fax their ballots back in 2020: AK, CA, FL, LA, OK, RI
US Citizens who vote in these states can return ballots by email: AL, AZ, CO, DC, DE, HI, IN, KS, MA, MS, MN, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OR, SC, UT, WA, WV
Voters from all other states must send a signed ballot back to their Local Election Office by mail or other means in order to cast their vote.
If you have questions about requesting your ballot as an overseas voter or returning your ballot to the US, please plan to “drop in” to a zoom call all day on any Sunday where a volunteer can help you with your questions in either a general fashion or privately in a separate session. The link for each Sunday is:
Meeting number: 910 9034 4003 Password: Vote2020
Or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org