The following information is provided to you by the American Institute in Taiwan. If you have questions, please write to VoteTaipei@state.govFederal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot?
A: It's a blank form that serves as an emergency ballot for overseas or military voters who registered and requested an absentee ballot in time, but fail to receive an official ballot from local election officials. It is used to vote for Federal offices (President/Vice President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Delegate or Resident Commissioner) in general elections. In general, it cannot be used for primaries or elections for local offices, but some states are now beginning to allow it for these.
Q: How can I get one?
A: We have hard copies at AIT which include the official envelope, or you can download the ballot from http://www.fvap.gov
Q: When should I use one?
A: If you haven't received your state's official ballot here in Taiwan by now - by October 20 - you should use the FWAB.
Q: What if I use the FWAB and then receive the regular state ballot?
A: You should still mark the state ballot and return it. If the regular state ballot arrives in time, the local election officials will count it rather than the FWAB. You should mail the completed state ballot to the local election official even if it may not arrive by Election Day.
Q: Are absentee votes really counted?
A: All absentee votes that arrive by the state's deadline are counted for the official record. Many states have deadlines after November 4 (for instance, New York requires that ballots be postmarked by November 3, but arrive by November 17). In that case, election results may already have been announced but the vote will be counted for the record.
Q: What states require witnessing of the ballot or FWAB?
A: Individual state requirements can be very particular. For instance, Wisconsin requires that an adult U.S. citizen witness the ballot return envelope and include his/her date of birth. The Virginia Board of Elections notes that they have to disqualify many FWABs because they are
missing the witness address. According to the Virginia Board of Elections, "the completed, signed and witnessed FWAB must be received by Thursday, October 30, 2008. The voter must sign and include his printed name, the city or county where he is registered, the
residence address at which he is registered to vote and his current military or overseas address. The witness must include their signature AND address on the witness signature line or the ballot may not be counted."
Q: How can I mail the FWAB to the U.S.?
A: See AIT's webpage which details various mailing options from Taiwan (http://www.ait.org.tw/en/uscitizens/MailingOptions.asp
). If you get the hard copy from AIT, it has an official return envelope. If you're NEITHER a Uniformed Services member, member of the Merchant Marine, or a dependent of a Uniformed Service or Merchant Marine member, you need an OVERSEAS postmark on the envelope in order for the FWAB to be counted. Local election officials are instructed NOT to count these ballots if they are submitted from within the U.S. (unless by military members noted above).
Q: Can I e-mail or fax my voted ballot to the U.S.?
A: Very few states allow voted ballots and FWABs to be emailed or faxed back. You must waive your right to a secret ballot. Check your state's pages in the Voting Assistance Guide:http://www.fvap.gov/for-voting-assistan ... index.html
These pages have the states' detailed requirements, but they don't have the LOCAL U.S. fax numbers and email addresses for your election official. For those, you'll need to check your state's official voting webpage, or your Secretary of State's webpage. It's recommended that you fax or email DIRECTLY to the local election official. After faxing or emailing the ballot, mail the completed ballot to the local election official, even if it may not arrive by the state's ballot return deadline.