Instructions for Military Voters and U.S. Citizens Residing Outside of the United States
Defining Your Overseas Status:
U.S. Citizens Residing Temporarily Overseas
U.S. citizens included in this category are those who are living or working overseas for the purpose of travel, business or education and have the intention of returning to San Francisco County at some future time. U.S. citizens who are temporarily residing overseas can participate in any local, state, or federal election.
U.S. Citizens Residing Permanently Overseas
U.S. civilian citizens included in this category are those who have no intention of returning to the United States and wish to avoid classification as a state resident. U.S. citizens residing permanently overseas are eligible to vote in federal elections only. According to California Elections Code, Section 3302, any U.S. citizen who is residing permanently overseas has the right to vote in federal elections and pursuant to this section, our office may send the voter a modified ballot with only the federal contests.
Military/Uniformed Services are defined as:
- A member of the uniformed services of the United States or any auxiliary branch thereof.
- Uniformed services--include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- A spouse or dependent of a member of the armed forces who, because of duty or service, is absent from the place of residence where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote; and/or
- A member of the merchant marine absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote.
If your last U.S. residence was in California, you can register to vote and request a vote-by-mail ballot if:
- You are a United States citizen age 18 years or older
- You provide your most recent California residence address
- You otherwise meet all qualifications for voting under federal government guidelines.
You can register to vote and request an vote-by-mail ballot by:
- Completing a Federal Post Card Application and Vote-By-Mail Ballot Request. (This application is available at http://www.fvap.gov/resources/media/fpca.pdf on the California Secretary of States' Web site ), or
- Completing and submitting a California mail-in voter registration card (This card is available at http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/national_vrc_notice.htm on the California Secretary of States' Web site ), or
- Downloading the Vote-By-Mail Application (PDF) English 中文 Español, which you can fill out and mail to the Department of Elections.
All written requests must include:
- The name or date of the election for which you are requesting a vote-by-mail ballot
- Your name
- California residence address
- Your overseas mailing address and telephone number
- Your signature
Where and when to submit registration materials and vote-by-mail applications:
Mail or fax your application as soon as possible, but no later than 15 days before an election, to:
Department of Elections
Voter Services Division
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl., Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102-4634
Phone: (415) 554-4411
Vote-By-Mail Fax: (415) 554-4372
Please check Important Dates & Deadlines
It is recommended that you request a vote-by-mail ballot at least three weeks before Election Day to ensure timely delivery of election materials.
Federal Write-In Ballot-for General Elections:
During a general election, voting a Federal Write-In Vote-By-Mail ballot is an option for all U.S. citizens who qualify as special military/overseas vote-by-mail voters and is contingent upon the following :
- You are a member of the military or the dependent of someone in the armed forces located outside the United States (including APO/FPO addresses)
- You are a Military or Overseas voter who requested--but did not receive--a vote-by-mail ballot by the State deadline.
A Federal Write-In Vote-By-Mail Ballot is designed as a back up for the regular county vote-by-mail ballot and is not a replacement for the regular county-issued ballot. The Online Version of the Federal Write-In Vote-By-Mail Ballot is available at http://www.fvap.gov/resources/media/fwab.pdf
Receiving Your Ballot
In order to give special military and overseas voters enough time to vote and return their ballot, the San Francisco Department of Elections reserves the right to mail a facsimile of the offical ballot**.
Vote-By-Fax Instructions for Special Military/Overseas Voters
1. Vote-by-Fax Instructions (pdf) English 中文 Español
2. Special Absentee Voter Oath (pdf) English 中文 Español
3. Vote-By-Mail Ballot Envelope (pdf)
**Under certain circumstances and in accordance with California Elections Code, voters are permitted to use sample ballots and photocopied ballots when actual ballots are not readily available.
Returning Your Ballot
Your ballot must arrive at the Department of Elections' office by 8:00 p.m. Election Day. Ballots that arrive after 8:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Election Day will not be counted, even if a postmark on your vote-by-mail ballot return envelope is dated before or on Election Day.