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Military and overseas voters
The right to vote
The right to vote is the basis for our democracy. People in the military and U.S. citizens living overseas have the right to cast a ballot and have their vote counted. This section provides information about voting while away from home for members of the armed forces and individuals living overseas.
Registering to vote and voting (Choose tab)
Registering to vote overseas
Voting absentee overseas
Federal Write In Absentee Ballot FWAB
Eligible Michigan voters who live overseas can register to vote by filling out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) or the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). If voters submit another type of registration form, such as the State of Michigan Voter Registration Application, it will also be accepted and processed.
Requirements: The following information is required when completing the FPCA:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Registration address and current address
- Driver’s license or state ID or the last 4 digits of Social Security number. If you do not have any of these numbers you must enter in Section 6: "I do not have a Social Security number or Michigan-issued ID number."
More information on requirements and completing the FPCA for Michigan voter registration is available in the FPCA Michigan guidance. For a general overview of voter eligibility and the Michigan voter registration process, visit Michigan.gov/Vote.
Deadline: Signed and completed FPCA must be received by a voter’s local clerk by 2 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day. Options for returning an FPCA, including email, fax, or regular mail, are listed in the FPCA Michigan Guidance.
Absentee ballots for overseas voters may be requested up to 75 days before an election and are generally mailed within 45 days of an election.
Absentee ballot applications for military and overseas voters may be submitted using a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), a regular absentee ballot application, or the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) Voter Information page.
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Jurisdiction (Michigan city or township and county)
- Classification [reason for requesting a Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) ballot]
- Registration address and current address
- Driver’s license number or state ID number or the last 4 digits of Social Security number
Registered voters in Michigan using a Michigan Absent Voter Ballot Application have the option to join the permanent absentee ballot list, and will receive an absentee ballot in every election going forward. . However, MOVE voters must complete a FCPA each year to ensure that they are sent a ballot early enough to allow for overseas mail. Applications that are received after the November election will apply to all of the next year’s elections.
Absentee ballots requested using the FPCA (post card) are sent by the delivery method chosen in the application, either by mail, fax, or email. If voters do not select a delivery method, their ballot will be mailed.
Deadline: Voters must have their completed absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received by their local clerk within 6 days after the election in order to be counted.
Voters can find their local clerk's office and track their absentee ballot at Michigan.gov/Vote.
Military and overseas voters that do not receive their absentee ballot in time have the option to use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as a backup ballot. The FWAB may also be used to register to vote and request an absentee ballot for future elections.
Voters qualify to use the FWAB if they are overseas and:
- A member of the uniformed service on active duty
- A member of the Merchant Marine on active duty
- A spouse or dependent of the Uniformed Services or the Merchant Marine on active duty
- A civilian voter who is living outside the United States
Emergency ballot information: The FWAB can also serve as an emergency backup ballot to a voter’s regular absentee ballot if their absentee ballot has not arrived in time. To qualify for using an FWAB as an emergency ballot, voters must have applied for their initial absentee ballot by 2 p.m. the Saturday prior to Election Day.
Deadline: For voters using the FWAB as an emergency ballot because their initial absentee ballot was not received in time, the FWAB must be postmarked on or by Election Day and received at the local clerk’s office within 6 days after Election Day to be counted.
Can a U.S. citizen register to vote in Michigan if they have never lived in the state or country?
Yes, U.S. citizens who have never lived in the U.S. may register to vote in Michigan if they:
- Have a parent, legal guardian, or spouse whose last permanent residence (home) was located in Michigan, and
- Have not registered to vote in another state
Can military and overseas Michigan voters request an absentee ballot through the online application at Michigan.gov/Vote?
Yes. Military and other voters overseas can complete the online absentee ballot application at Michigan.gov/Vote. They can also download an absentee ballot application from Michigan.gov/Vote to complete and return to their local clerk's office. Alternatively, Michiganders abroad may request an absentee ballot be sent to them overseas by downloading and completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and return it to their local clerk's office in Michigan.
Overseas Michigan voters who return their absentee ballot application online at Michigan.gov/Vote or submit an absentee ballot application instead of a FPCA application by mail must contact their local clerk’s office after submitting their application to clarify they are a military or overseas voter.
Please note, absentee ballot applications must be received no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before Election Day, in order to receive an absentee ballot to vote on Election Day.
Can military and overseas voters submit their ballots electronically?While Michigan voters serving overseas or living abroad can elect to receive their absentee ballot electronically by email, online, or by fax, all completed absentee ballots must be returned by mail under current Michigan law. Guidance on mailing a completed absentee ballot from an overseas address is available at fvap.gov.
How can Michiganders overseas register to vote to participate on Election Day?
Michiganders who are overseas can register to vote by downloading and completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) or by registering online at Michigan.gov/Vote. After returning this postcard to their local clerk by email, fax, or mail, they will be registered to vote and will receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or mail.
Contact information for all local Michigan clerks can be found at:
How can military and overseas voters ensure their absentee ballot is received by Election Day?
Pursuant to state law, registered Michigan voters abroad must return their absentee ballots by mail. So long as their ballots are valid, have a matching signature, are postmarked no later than Election Day, and are received within 6 days after Election Day, they will be tabulated. The Michigan Department of State advises Michigan voters overseas to request and return their absentee ballot as early as possible. To securely track an absentee ballot and ensure it is received, voters should visit:
How can registered Michigan voters overseas confirm they will receive an absentee ballot in time for Election Day?
Any registered Michigan voter serving or living abroad who has registered and requested to vote by absentee ballot any time after November of the previous year, will be mailed an absentee ballot for all of the current year’s elections. Those who have not yet requested an absentee ballot may do so by downloading and completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and return it to their local clerk’s office via email, mail, or fax.
Overseas voters can verify their Michigan voter registration information and confirm whether they are registered to receive an absentee ballot by visiting Michigan.gov/Vote. Once there, voters can track the status of their absentee ballot application and the mailing of their absentee ballot, as well as view contact information for their local clerk’s office in the event follow-up is required.
How can registered Michigan voters serving in the military or living abroad request an absentee ballot?
Registered Michigan voters serving or living abroad can request an absentee ballot be sent to them by email, fax, or postal mail by downloading and completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, fvap.gov. Once completed, voters should mail, fax, or scan and email their FPCA application to their local clerk’s office.
To avoid possible postal delays, the Michigan Department of State advises that Michigan voters overseas return their FPCA application to their local clerk’s office by email or fax, rather than by mail, in order to receive their absentee ballot in time.
Once an absentee ballot application has been submitted, voters can securely track the status of their absentee ballot application and mailing of their absentee ballot online at Michigan.gov/Vote.
Please note, absentee ballot applications must be received no later than 2 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day in order to vote on Election Day.
How is the Michigan Department of State ensuring the security of the absentee ballot process for Michigan voters overseas to reduce the risk for voter fraud?Registered Michigan voters serving overseas and living abroad are subject to the same signature verification requirements as Michigan voters in the United States. A voter’s signature must match their recorded signature in the Qualified Voter File in order to be issued an absentee ballot.
Additionally, as is the case for all Michigan voters, only one ballot may be tabulated for a military or overseas voter. Michigan’s election system has a robust structure of checks and procedures to ensure no Michigan voter can cast a ballot twice. Michigan has implemented several measures to strengthen election security and integrity which have since consistently resulted in accurate and secure election results. More information about election security measures in Michigan is available on our website.
If an overseas Michigan voter does not receive their absentee ballot in time to return it to their local clerk by Election Day, can their vote still be counted?Military servicemembers, their families, and civilians overseas who are registered Michigan voters and are concerned they may not receive their absentee ballot in time may complete a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) and return it to their local clerk’s office by mail. The FWAB is available online at fvap.gov and serves as a backup ballot in case the regular absentee ballot does not reach the local clerk’s office in time. The FWAB will also serve as voter registration for Michiganders abroad who are eligible to register to vote and request an absentee ballot for future elections.
If both the FWAB emergency ballot and the requested absentee ballot are returned to the clerk in time, only the requested ballot will be tabulated.
Overseas voters can download a FWAB and view instructions on completing and returning the write-in absentee ballot by visiting the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. Write-in absentee ballots must be returned by mail to the voter’s local clerk.
Please note, all valid absentee ballots with a matching signature that are postmarked by Election Day and received within 6 days after Election Day will be tabulated.