Thank you for taking part in elections while you are in the military or other uniformed service, or a civilian living outside the United States. The information and resources on this page are intended to make participating in elections as easy and rewarding for you as possible. Here, you will learn the basic steps to become a “special absentee voter” so you are eligible to vote while living or serving overseas and discover how state and federal laws work to protect your precious right to vote. As a military and overseas voter, there are several different ways you can request and receive your ballot, then return your ballot once you are registered to vote.
- Request and Receive Your Ballot
- Return Your Voted Ballot
- Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form
- Who Can Vote In Califoria
- Who Can Become A “Special Absentee Voter”?
- Vote By Mail in Future Elections
- Important Information Regarding Your Address
- Toll Free Faxing Information
Request and Receive Your Ballot
When you register as a Special Absentee Voter, you can choose to get your ballot mailed to you, faxed to you or emailed to you.
Return Your Voted Ballot
You can either mail or fax your ballot back to our elections office at (831) 636-2939. If you decide to fax your voted ballot, you must also fax an “Oath of Voter” form with it to waive your right to a confidential vote.
Whether you choose to fax or mail your ballot, you will need to send this form to the elections official for the county where you lived just prior to your departure from the United States. Californians who apply for special absentee voter status can also choose to have their ballot faxed or emailed to them, instead of having it delivered by mail. Simply indicate your preference in the space provided on the FPCA form
In San Benito County:
- San Bento County Clerk
440 Fifth Street, Room 206
Hollister, CA 95023-3843
Phone: (831) 636-4016
Fax (831) 636-2939
Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative form
Our county also accepts the federal oath form: Federal Voting Assitance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form. Under California law, while you may receive a blank ballot by email, you may not return a voted ballot by email. All voted ballots must be received by the county elections official before the polls close in California at 8:00 p.m. on November 2, 2010, in order to be counted.
Who can vote in California?
You may register to vote in California if:
- You are a United States citizen;
- You are a resident of California;
- You are at least 18 years of age (or will be by the date of the next election);
- You are not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction;
- You have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent
Who can become a “special absentee voter”?
To qualify as a “special absentee voter,” you need to be:
- An active duty member of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) or other uniformed service (commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration);
- A spouse or dependent of a member of the military;
- A member of the Merchant Marine; or
- A civilian U.S. citizen living outside the United States.
Members of the California National Guard who have been called up for active duty are eligible to register as a “special absentee voter.” If you are not currently on active duty, visit the Secretary of State’s Voter Registration page for more information on how to register to vote.
You are eligible to vote in California’s federal, state and local elections if you are a U.S. citizen living temporarily outside of the U.S. who lived in California immediately prior to your departure from the United States. If you are living abroad for an indefinite period, you can only vote in elections for federal offices (President, Vice President, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives).
Vote By Mail in future elections
Under California law, military or overseas voters who submit an FPCA will automatically be registered as permanent special absentee voters. As a permanent special absentee voter, you will automatically receive your special absentee ballot in all future elections. However, if you do not vote in two consecutive general elections, you will lose your permanent special absentee voter status and you will have to submit a new FPCA.
Additionally, you will need to send our officel a new FPCA if you:
- Change your mailing address,
- Change your name, or
- Change your political party affiliation.
Important information regarding your address
Election materials (including your ballot and sample ballot booklet) cannot be forwarded to an address that is different from the one you listed on your FPCA. By promptly submitting a new FPCA to your county elections official when you change your mailing address, you will ensure that you receive your ballot in a timely manner.
Toll Free Faxing Information
Special absentee voters may fax their election materials toll-free to the Federal Voting Assistance Program at the numbers shown below. To do this, you will need to include the official fax cover sheet available on the FVAP website.
From the U.S., Canada, Guam,
Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands
From Other Countries:
DSN 223-5527 (Military)