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Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today

The 2020 US election is fast approaching. If you’re a US citizen abroad, and with the added concerns around Covid-19, this is certainly not the year to delay voting.

Your vote matters: get your US election ballot in today
Ballot/FWAB State transmission methods (see full details from FVAP below)

Wherever you are, help is at hand. The Local has teamed up with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), which supports US citizens living abroad to vote absentee.

Hopefully, you’ve already requested your absentee ballot – that's the crucial first step, so do it right now if you haven't already. You still have time – and every state allows you to receive your ballot by email.

Once your ballot arrives, don’t hang on to it! Here are four reasons to return your ballot the moment it arrives in your hands – or your email inbox.

Quick! Find out how to vote absentee as a US citizen abroad while you still have time

1. To make sure your voice is heard

Are you one of the three million Americans abroad who is eligible to vote? Want to be certain your voice will be heard? Then, return your ballot immediately! Turnout among eligible overseas voters was only 6.9 percent in the 2016 US election – and even lower for the 2018 mid-terms.

Maybe you've got lost in the voting process? Don't worry. If you’ve requested a ballot but haven’t received it, ask your election office about its status. Hoping to save yourself some time by voting by email? See the map below or click here to check your options for returning your ballot (or your FWAB – more on that below) in your state – by email, fax or mail.

2. For peace of mind amid the pandemic …

Need or plan to return your ballot by mail? You have even more reason to act immediately.  You can contact your local post office about possible delivery delays due to Covid-19 (more information from FVAP here).

So, what if your state only allows mail-in ballots and you’re worried about delays? FVAP suggests seeing if you can send your ballot by diplomatic pouch from a nearby Embassy or consulate

You may also want to check the latest list of countries to which the United States Postal Service (USPS) has suspended mail due to the pandemic.

The final recommended vote-by-date from abroad is October 13. But why leave it so long? If you want to feel sure your vote will count, return your ballot now! 

Make your vote count: see FVAP's guidance on voting absentee from abroad

3. To get your “I Voted From Abroad” sticker! 

Voting absentee doesn’t mean you have to miss out on getting one of those “I Voted” stickers. In fact, as an American abroad who played your part in the democratic process, you can get a special version reading: “I Voted From Abroad”.

You can display it on social media to let your friends and family know you voted. Perhaps your sticker will even motivate others to vote too.

4. Because you have a ready-made back-up plan

Are you running out of time? You can’t always count on everything working out as you expect. But when it comes to voting as an American abroad, you get a ready-made back-up ballot – so even if your requested ballot doesn’t arrive, you can still vote.

It’s called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Use this if your regular ballot doesn’t reach you in good time. A few states may allow you to vote via FWAB even if you haven’t already applied for a regular ballot.

Running out of time to return your ballot? Find out more about voting with the FWAB

 

For members

TRAVEL

What does the US’s new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?

The US State Department has changed its advice on travel to Italy as well as dozens of other countries with improving Covid infection rates. What does this mean for Americans who want to come to Italy?

What does the US's new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?
Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The US has downgraded Italy from its “do not travel” list (level 4) to “reconsider travel” (level 3). 

The decision by the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means that Ital yis no longer in the highest risk classification for travel. 

However, according to the State Department’s advice for level 3 “reconsider travel”, “US nationals should avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security”. 

“Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Italy. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Italy,” reads the CDC website.

However, Italy’s entry rules for Americans remain unchanged since May 16th.

As the US remains on Italy’s travel ‘D list’, entry is allowed for any reason but all arrivals from the US are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine period unless on a special Covid-tested flight.

People arriving on other flights, including those who must travel for essential reasons, must provide negative test results as well as facing the quarantine requirement on arrival, under rules which are currently set to stay in force until at least July 30th. (However, it’s possible that they may be dropped earlier – or extended beyond that date.)

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There is currently no exemption to the Italian travel restrictions for people who have been vaccinated.

However, Italy’s government said on Wednesday that its long-awaited travel ‘green pass’ or health certificate would be ready for use in the coming days.

The pass will be available to anyone who has either been vaccinated, has tested negative for coronavirus within the past 48 hours, or has recently contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

Authorities did not clarify whether the pass would be made available to non-EU citizens immediately. Find more details here.

Other countries that are no longer classified as “do not travel” by the US are France, Spain, Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico. You can find out other countries’ classifications here

The CDC said it had also updated the criteria it uses to determine these risk levels “to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, Covid-19 spread”.

The US State Department uses the CDC’s recommendations to set its own travel advice but also considers other factors such as Covid restrictions and terrorism in other countries.

All returning US citizens require a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their plane back, the CDC added.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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