How to Become a Military or Overseas Voter

To become a California military or overseas voter, complete the online voter registration application. You can choose to have your ballot and voter's declaration (included in the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope) faxed or emailed to you, instead of having it delivered by mail. Simply indicate your preference in the space provided on the online form.

If you cannot or do not wish to register online, you may complete the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Members of the military can obtain an FPCA from their installation's Voting Assistance Officer. Civilian overseas voters can obtain an FPCA at any U.S. embassy or consulate. The FPCA, as well as mailing information and answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website. You may return your completed FPCA by mail or fax to the county elections official of the county where you lived just prior to your departure. The FPCA is postage-paid in the U.S. mail, including the Military Postal System and State Department Pouch mail.

A list of California's 58 county elections offices and their contact information is available on our Military and Overseas Voters Information web page.

As a military or overseas voter you may:

  1. Mail or fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope to your county elections official.

    You can return your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope by mail or fax (under certain circumstances).

    If mailing: Your voted ballot and signed return envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.

    If faxing: You may return your ballot by fax if you are a military or overseas voter living outside the territorial limits of the United States or the District of Columbia, or you are a member of the military called for military service within the United States seven or less days before Election Day. It must be received by your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you decide to fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, you must also fax an "Oath of Voter" form to waive your right to a confidential vote. This oath is in addition to the voter's declaration that is on the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope. Please use the oath form your county provides to you; however, many counties also accept the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form (PDF). Please check with your county before using FVAP's Alternative Form.

    After you have faxed your voted ballot, signed return envelope, and oath, you are encouraged to also return your voted ballot and signed return envelope by mail or in person, if possible.

  2. Vote by mail in future elections.

    Under California law, military or overseas voters who complete the online voter registration application or submit an FPCA will automatically be registered as permanent vote-by-mail voters. As a permanent vote-by-mail voter, you will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot in all future elections. However, if you do not vote in four consecutive general elections, you will lose your permanent vote-by-mail voter status and you will have to submit a new FPCA.

    Additionally, you will need to re-register online or send your county elections official a new FPCA if you:

    • Change your mailing address,
    • Change your name, or
    • Change your political party preference.

    Election materials (including your ballot, Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, and county Voter Information Guide) cannot be forwarded to an address that is different from the one you listed online or on your FPCA. By promptly re-registering online or submitting a new FPCA to your county elections official when you change your mailing address, you will ensure that you receive your ballot and return envelope in a timely manner.