Here's How to Vote as a Digital Nomad This Midterm Election
Here's where to access state absentee ballot deadlines and more.
The pandemic altered almost every facet of our day-to-day lives. Our social dynamics shifted, as did our work structure. We abandoned the conference room in favor of Zoom and took our water cooler chat straight to Slack.
While we've seen a return to normalcy as of late, particularly the last six months, one trend has persisted: the nomadic lifestyle. Pre-pandemic, nearly 5 million Americans lived as "digital nomads," working from a laptop on the beaches of Hawaii and cafés in Paris. Between 2019 and 2020, however, that number spiked by 49%. Even as return-to-work programs have kicked off, more and more employees are opting out for newfound freedom.
Now, with the midterm elections around the corner, free-spirited wanderers have more to worry about than just their Wi-Fi access in Rome—is work from the Colosseum a thing? Should we make it one?
You'll need to think about absentee voting sooner rather than later. The deadlines are rapidly approaching. Let's start with what actually qualifies you to participate in the absentee voting process. The list includes:
- Members of the Uniformed Services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps)
- Members of the Merchant Marines
- Eligible family members of the above
- US citizens residing outside the US
The latter is you! And you've earned the right through the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). There are, of course, additional steps required of you though. You'll want to first register to vote and fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FCPA) to send to your election office. It needs to be refreshed every election. While the form typically ensures you get a ballot 45 days in advance of the election, we've already passed that date, so you'll want to send it out ASAP. You can also request an absentee ballot (whether you're overseas or currently in another state outside of your own) online.
The rules vary from state to state on what qualifies you to absentee vote, USA.gov notes. In some, you have to provide a valid excuse for why you cannot go to the polls on Election Day, while in others, you don't have to provide a reason at all—even if you are capable of attending in person.
A lot of other details are dependent on your state of residence too. It will determine when you receive the ballot, how to submit it, and of course, the cut-off date for sending yours back entirely. Luckily, Vote.org has broken it all down by state. You can access details on in-person, by mail, and online (if applicable) absentee voting, including the deadline. You can even track your ballot afterwards.
Now, while the specifics are different everywhere, there is a nationally recommended vote-by date of October 24. Use that as your guide! But if you still manage to miss your state deadlines, don't panic. You can use a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.