The 2020 US Presidential Election takes place in one of the most unusual political, social, and economic climates for decades. 2020 has seen the US along with many other countries locked down for months on end, impacting many Americans’ jobs and finances. In this article we answer questions expats have about the 2020 US presidential election.
What date is the 2020 US presidential election?
Election day is November 3rd, 2020.
Voting begins in some states on September 20th. The first presidential debate is on September 29th. There’s a vice presidential debate on October 7th, and two further presidential debates on October 15th and 22nd.
Can expats vote?
Yes. All American citizens can vote, wherever in the world they live. Our nation was founded on the concept of ‘no taxation without representation’, and along with having to continue filing US taxes, American citizens residing overseas retain the right to vote.
Expats can vote in all federal elections, including both presidential and Congress, and including primaries.
“U.S. citizens can receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or internet download, depending on the state they are eligible to vote in.” – the State Department
Whether expats can vote in state elections depends on the rules in each state, but at least some expats can vote in all states, depending on their circumstances (e.g. how long they have lived, or intend to live, abroad for).
American citizens abroad who have never lived in the US (such as the children of US citizens who are born abroad) have the right to vote too. They should use their US parent’s last address in the US to register.
How can expats register to vote?
If you haven’t already registered this year, go to https://www.fvap.gov/ and complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Print and sign the form, then mail it to your local state election office in the state where you last lived.
October is the latest that expats can register, with the exact registration deadline different in each state.
How can expats vote?
Once having registered in the state where they last lived, expats will receive their ballot electronically, either by email, download, or by fax, depending on the state. If your state uses fax, be sure to include a fax number on your FPCA when you register.
When you receive your ballot, print it, fill it in, and mail it back to your local state election office, or to your nearest US embassy or consulate, and allowing plenty of time for it to reach the States.
Only a few states allow ballots to be submitted electronically, however it’s best to check current rules with your state directly.
If I register to vote, will the IRS contact me?
All US citizens are required to file US taxes, including expats, reporting their worldwide income. The IRS has access to US and foreign banking and tax information though, so expats who are behind with their US tax filing and foreign account reporting from abroad should seek assistance from an expat tax specialist, who can often help them get compliant while avoiding penalties.
Voting in a federal election won’t affect expats’ US federal tax filing situation at all. The IRS has no access to State voting registers, so expats should rest reassured that registering to vote won’t trigger an audit or any other IRS attention.
Will voting affect expats’ state tax filing?
The State Department says that while voting in a federal election won’t affect federal or state tax liability, voting in state or local elections can affect state tax liability, so expats should check the state tax rules in their state and insure that they are compliant before voting in local elections.