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.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) allows overseas voters the ability to vote in all eligible elections, in a timely manner. UOCAVA voters will receive their ballot at least 45 days prior to election day
Registering to become a UOCAVA voter
Even if you were registered to vote when you lived in California, in order to receive your elections materials and vote while living overseas, you need to apply for a UOCAVA Ballot. You can do this:
- by using the Secretary of State’s Register to Vote page
- or by faxing or mailing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) that is accepted by all states and U.S. territories. The FPCA is postage-paid in the U.S. mail, including the Military Postal System and State Department Pouch mail. Members of the military can also obtain an FPCA from their installation’s Voting Assistance Officer. Civilian overseas voters can obtain an FPCA at any U.S. embassy or consulate. An online version of the FPCA, as well as mailing information and answers to frequently asked questions, is available at Federal Voting Assistance Program.
When you register as a UOCAVA Voter, you can choose to get your ballot mailed to you, faxed to you or emailed to you. We strongly encourage choosing to receive via email as it will ensure the fastest delivery as well as allow you direct access into the online ballot marking system (see Voting).
UOCAVA voters may vote in one of 2 ways.
- Using our Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system
- If you have selected to receive your ballot by email or have an email address on record, you will receive instructions to vote this way.
- The RAVBM allows the voter to mark selections online. The voter then can print the marked selections, all other required forms, and return that voted ballot
- Voting a traditional paper ballot
- If you are registered to receive your ballot by mail, you will be mailed a paper ballot, all voting guide information, and other forms necessary for returning your ballot
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
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 for a felony conviction;
- You have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent
Who can become a UOCAVA voter?
To qualify as a UOCAVA 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).
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 reregistering, or 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
UOCAVA 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 or in the .
From the U.S., Canada, Guam,
Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands
From Other Countries:
DSN 223-5527 (Military)