Civilian Overseas, Active Duty Military  and Federal Absentee Voting

Civilian Overseas, Active Duty Military, and Federal Absentee Voting Instructions

Applying for an Absentee Ballot

The voter registration and absentee ballot request form for voters that are either on active duty or located outside the country is called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Section 1 of the FPCA asks a voter to pick a voter classification:

  • Military electors are voters that select “I am on active duty in the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine OR I am an eligible spouse or dependent.” These voters are eligible to vote for all Federal, State, and Local offices as well as ballot questions and referendums.
  • Overseas electors are voters that select “I am a U.S citizen living outside the country, and I intend to return.” Overseas voters are eligible to vote for all Federal, State, and Local offices as well as ballot questions and referendums.
  • Federal electors are voters that select “I am a U.S citizen living outside the country, and my intent to return is uncertain.” Federal voters are only eligible to vote for Federal offices.

 Selecting “I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country, and I have never lived in the United States” makes a person NOT eligible to vote under Pennsylvania statute 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973ff-6(5)(B) & (C). 

You may register to vote and request an official absentee ballot by using the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA), available at the  Federal Voting Assistance Program or download here: 

Downloadable Fillable FPCA Form

This application is acceptable for General, Primary, and Special elections for which you are eligible in that calendar year alone. We recommend you send in a new FPCA every January for elections that you are eligible for.

You may apply for an absentee ballot by submitting your FPCA by email to [email protected], or by fax to (610) 344-5682. You may also mail your FPCA form to the County Board of Elections at:

  Chester County Voter Services

  601 Westtown Rd, Suite 150

  PO Box 2747

  West Chester, PA 19380

*To be eligible to receive a primary absentee ballot, a voter must be registered with a political party to vote in a closed primary.*

Absentee Ballot Delivery Options

Email Absentee Ballot

You can select to have your absentee ballot materials delivered to you by email if you request this on your FPCA form. Your voted absentee ballot materials CANNOT be returned to the County Board of Elections by email or fax, it must be printed out and returned by mail. To request that your ballot gets sent to you by email:

    Mark the box that says email preference in Section 5 on your FPCA form.

    Provide an email address in Section 4 of your FPCA form that you would like your ballot materials sent to. There is an option for an alternate email address if you would like to provide a backup email option. 

    Once you have completed your ballot, fold and place it in a blank envelope and seal– this will be the ‘Secrecy Envelope’ for your ballot. PLACE ONLY YOUR VOTED BALLOT IN THE SECRECY ENVELOPE AND DO NOT WRITE ON THE SECRECY ENVELOPE. Insert your sealed Secrecy Envelope and your completed Voter’s Declaration/Affirmation in another envelope and seal it.

Mail Absentee Ballot

You can select to have your absentee ballot materials delivered to you by mail if you request this on your FPCA form. To request that your ballot gets sent to you by mail:

    Mark the box that says mail preference in Section 5 on your FPCA form.

    Provide a mailing address in Section 3 of your FPCA form that you would like your ballot mailed to.

Returning Your Absentee Ballot

All voted Civilian Overseas, Active Duty Military, and Federal Absentee Ballots must be mailed back, along with the completed voter's declaration no later than 11:59 PM on the day before the election and must be received by the County Board of Elections no later than the Tuesday following the election.

Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot

If time does not permit you to receive and return an official absentee ballot and you have already applied for an absentee ballot, you are also entitled to vote using the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Military electors may also use the FWAB to register to vote and vote simultaneously. 

You may use the FWAB to vote for ALL state and local offices, and ballot initiatives. To vote for state and local offices or for ballot initiatives, write the names of candidates or ballot initiatives in the Addendum section of the FWAB. Under the Office/Ballot Initiative heading, enter the office the candidate is running for or the title of the Ballot Initiative (referendum). Under the Candidate Name, Party Affiliation or Initiative Vote heading, list the name of the candidate you wish to vote for, or if you are voting on a Referendum questions write “yes” or “no.”

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is available at Federal Voting Assistance Program or download here: 

Downloadable Fillable FWAB Form

Your completed FWAB documents must be mailed back, it CANNOT be sent in by email or fax. It must be mailed back no later than 11:59 PM on the day before the election and must be received by the County Board of Elections no later than the Tuesday following the election.

The address of the County Board of Elections is:

    Chester County Voter Services

    601 Westtown Rd, Suite 150

    PO Box 2747

    West Chester, PA 19380

For additional information about absentee voting for overseas and military voters, please refer to the resources available at Federal Voting Assistance Program