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PRESENTED BY THE FEDERAL VOTING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

November US midterms: Your voting questions answered

The November midterm elections are almost here and if you're a US citizen, you need to register and request a ballot to vote.

November US midterms: Your voting questions answered
Did you know that some US states allow you to submit your ballot electronically? Graphic: FVAP.gov

Recently The Local held an online poll to ask our American readers about their obstacles to voting absentee from abroad.

In partnership with the Federal Voting Assistance Program, we address some of the most common concerns that were identified.  

What am I voting for on November 8th? 

When we polled our readers, 15 percent of them said they ‘didn’t feel motivated to vote’. However, the midterms involve a great deal of change. As we noted in our last piece, in November 2022 all the seats in the US House of Representatives are up for election, in addition to a third of the Senate. Additionally, 36 state governors will be elected, as well as 30 state attorney-generals. 

These are all positions with the legislative power to make important decisions on a local, state or federal level. Those that are elected will play a real role in shaping what the future looks like for all of us in areas such as health, education, the economy and civil rights. 

Voting in the 2022 midterm elections is easy. Request your ballot now

How do I know if I’m eligible? 

If you’re a US citizen and over the age of 18 years, you are eligible to vote. 

Put simply, if you could vote in the US, you can vote from abroad. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know when you will return to the US, or if you plan on never returning – this is a right that you don’t lose. 

What matters for each individual election is that you are registered to vote. All states and territories require that this is done before a certain deadline, varying from state to state. 16.67 percent of readers polled felt that ‘the deadlines can be too confusing’ – to help voters with this, the FVAP website has quick links to the deadlines for each state. 

How do I register to vote? 

Almost a quarter of readers (21.67 percent) told us that they ‘don’t know how to register’.  Luckily, the process is simple and easy to complete. First, visit the FVAP website. There, you can use FVAP’s Online Assistant to register with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) – a very brief process as you only need a few personal details.

The FPCA is also how you request your ballot. Once you complete the form, print, sign, send in the FPCA to you election office and your ballot will be on its way to you!

Some states allow you to email or fax your FPCA to their electoral authority. Check what your state allows using the graphic below.

Source: FVAP.gov

How do I fill out my ballot? 

Regardless of which state electoral authority will count your vote, all absentee ballot papers come with clear instructions for filling them out – such as writing details legibly, using block letters. You should also follow any specific instructions for sealing the ballot and signing the required affidavit. This last part is important – it’s how electoral officials verify your ballot so that it can be counted. 

Find out how the Federal Voting Assistance Program makes voting from abroad easy for US citizens

How much time should I allow to post my ballot? 

This was identified as one of the main concerns for many of our readers – some 46.67 percent of readers identified that ‘mail is unreliable’. However, as long as ballots are sent in good time – at least two weeks before the election – you should avoid running into any issues.

Some states even allow you to submit your mail by fax or email, as shown in the graphic at the head of this article. 

It’s never been easier to vote from abroad. Photo: Getty Images

How do I know whether my ballot has been received? 

You can check to see whether your ballot has been received by contacting the electoral authority in the state that you are voting in. 

Again, FVAP makes this process easy. By selecting your home state on the website, you can either make an email query, or if the state has an online system, you can use it to check if the ballot has arrived and been processed. 

What happens if I don’t receive my ballot?

If you have not received your ballot in a timely fashion, you do have a backup – the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) allows you to vote. Simply input your state and local jurisdiction and follow the steps. Just make sure you send your FWAB so that it arrives before the deadline for your particular state’s electoral authority – these are easily found in the FVAP Voting Assistance Guide by clicking on your state.

The 2022 midterms are an opportunity for every eligible US citizen to help decide the future direction of the communities they have strong links to. 

Don’t delay – get registered to vote using FVAP’s free Online Assistant today and make sure your vote arrives in time

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LIVING IN ITALY

13 essential apps to make your life in Italy easier

From commuting to grocery shopping, mobile apps have made many of our daily tasks simpler. Here are some of the best apps to have on your phone if you live in Italy.

13 essential apps to make your life in Italy easier

Though some might not always fulfil their purpose, apps are essentially designed to make daily life easier and for those living in a foreign country any type of help, however big or small, is worth its weight in gold.

READ ALSO: Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

So, in no particular order, here are 13 apps that might prove essential for life in Italy. 

Moovit

Moovit is by far the best urban mobility app available in Italy.

From public transport to taxis and e-bikes, Moovit will give you travel options to get to your destination in the quickest possible time. 

The times where you’d need multiple apps to figure out the quickest way to get from A to B are long gone.

Enjoy

Public transport options aren’t always great in Italy, and you might find yourself looking for a car to hire on more than one occasion. 

If you live in Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna or Florence, you’ll be able to do so via Enjoy.

Once you’ve uploaded your driving licence to the app, you’ll only need to locate the nearest car in your area and book it with a simple click. Parking at the end of your journey will be free of charge. 

Lime

If you’re not a fan of cars (or simply can’t stand traffic during peak hours), you’ll also have the option to hop on a bike and cycle your way through the city.

There are countless bike-sharing services across the country, but Lime is definitely one of the most reliable ones.

Prices vary depending on where you live, but they’re generally very affordable.

Free Now

Regular Uber services are not available in Italy, so you’ll have to turn to local taxis for a ride. 

Free Now will spare you a lot of traipsing around (and a lot of roadside waving) by allowing you to summon a taxi to your exact location and pay for your ride via the app.

Other apps, like appTaxi and itTaxi, are also available and some are more widely used in certain cities than others.

A taxi on an empty road in Rome, Italy

Free Now allows residents to quickly hail a taxi and pay for the ride via the app. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Il Meteo

While it might not have the most creative of names – it literally means ‘the weather’ – Il Meteo is the best mobile app if you’re looking to keep up to date with weather conditions in your corner of the boot.

Aside from giving you ten-day forecasts, the app gives you updates on pollen levels, road traffic and earthquakes as well as live satellite images.

Satispay

Satispay is one hell of a time-saver when it comes to making small purchases at your local grocery store, especially if you don’t have Apple Pay or Google Pay set up on your phone.

The app is essentially an online wallet which allows you to pay by simply scanning a QR code at the relevant check-out machine. 

Other than that, it allows you to send money to your phone contacts and make a series of in-app payments, including phone top-ups and car tax payments.

The Fork

Booking a spot at a local restaurant can be a bit of a hassle at times, especially if your Italian is still così così

That’s where The Fork comes in. A couple of effortless taps on your screen and you’re booked. 

The Fork also gives you access to a number of generous discounts (as much as 50 percent in some cases) on your restaurant bill.

Glovo

If you’re craving a restaurant meal but don’t quite want to leave the comfort of your home, Glovo is one of the best options available in Italy.

Glovo services more than 450 towns and cities across Italy and their deliveries are usually bang on time. 

Aside from delivering food orders, the service will also bring anything from groceries to medicine to flowers right to your doorstep.

Giallo Zafferano

One of the best ways to tap into the bel paese’s unparalleled culinary tradition is by downloading the Giallo Zafferano (Saffron Yellow) app.

Giallo Zafferano stores over 4,000 recipes, many of which are accompanied by video tutorials, nutrition facts and historical notes.

Pizza-making in Naples, Italy

The Giallo Zafferano app allows users to tap into Italy’s world-famous culinary tradition. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The app will also allow you to share tips and photos of your creations with other users.

Subito

Subito is an online marketplace where you can buy or sell anything from cars to real estate to home furniture.

The app has over six million ads, but searching for items is surprisingly easy thanks to the filters and categories provided. 

Also, Subito allows you to post ads for free and chat with potential buyers (or sellers) directly within the app. 

Prezzi Benzina

Though they might not be as high as they were some months ago, fuel prices are still far from the norm and even small savings can make a big difference.

You can use Prezzi Benzina (Fuel Prices) to quickly locate the cheapest petrol station in your area and get the best available deal. 

READ ALSO: Where to find the cheapest fuel in Italy

All you have to do is select the type of fuel your vehicle runs on and enter your location. The app will do the rest. 

IO

Italian bureaucracy is notoriously tricky to navigate, but setting up the IO app on your phone will make things easier for you. 

IO allows you to message and exchange documents with any Italian public body, and gives you the option to pay for a number of public administration services from within the app.

Remember: you’ll need SPID (Public Digital Identity System) credentials or an Italian Electronic Identity Card (CIE) to access the service. 

MedInAction

MedInAction allows you to book an appointment with a qualified English-speaking doctor within 24 hours.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

However, the service isn’t cheap – prices for house calls start at 120 euros, whereas online consultations with a GP are available for 50 euros – and only the biggest Italian cities are covered.

Also, the app is only available on iOS devices.

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