When will you receive your ballot and Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope?
California county elections officials are required to send ballots and return envelopes to military and overseas voters between 60 and 45 days before an election.
You can return your voted ballot and signed return envelope by mail or fax. Your voted ballot and signed return envelope must be received by the county elections official before the polls close in California at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.
Mail or fax back your voted ballot and signed return envelope following the Secretary of State's online instructions under "Mailing Addresses and Fax Numbers for Military or Overseas Voters". If you decide to fax your voted ballot and signed return envelope, you must also fax an "Oath of Voter" form with it to waive your right to a confidential vote. This oath is in addition to the declaration that is on the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, which is provided by your county elections official. You can request the Oath of Voter form from your county elections official or use the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form. Please check with your county before using FVAP's Alternative Form.
Additionally, military and overseas voters who return their voted ballots, signed return envelope, and oaths by fax are encouraged to also return their voted ballots and signed return envelopes by mail or in person if possible.
If you registered online or mailed or faxed your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at least 30 days before the election and have not received a vote-by-mail ballot and return envelope two weeks before Election Day, you may want to contact your county elections official regarding the status of your request. You may also use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to vote in any election in which you, as a military or overseas voter, are qualified to vote. Please see below for further information about FWABs.
You can also vote by using the sample ballot you received from your county elections official.
A list of California's county elections offices and their contact information is available on our Military and Overseas Voters Information web page.
A FWAB is available through Voting Assistance Officers at military installations, as well as at U.S. embassies and consulates. It is also available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website for you to fill out, print, and send to your county elections official.
If there is not enough time to return the completed FWAB by mail, then print, sign, date, and fax it with the Voter's Declaration/Affirmation and Oath of Voter to the county elections official so that it will be received before the polls close in California at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
If you receive your vote-by-mail ballot and return envelope after submitting the completed FWAB (and/or sample ballot), you may also vote and return the vote-by-mail ballot and signed return envelope. If you return all three ballots by the deadline, only the vote-by-mail ballot will be counted.
Answers to other questions often asked by military and overseas voters are on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.