County of San Benito Clerk, Auditor & Recorder

Military & Overseas Voting

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.

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 Special Absentee Ballot 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.

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:
(800) 368-8683
(703) 693-5527
DSN 223-5527 (Military)


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DISCLAIMER: The Information contained herein was believed to be valid at the time of publication. The San Benito County Clerk - Auditor - Recorder - Registrar of Voters reserves the right to make changes in the website at any time and without notice. San Benito County Registrar of Voters assumes no liability for damages incurred directly or indirectly as a result of errors, omissions or discrepancies. This website is for informational purposes only and separate from the County of San Benito website. This website includes links to other websites not controlled by the San Benito County Clerk - Auditor - Recorder - Registrar of Voters. The San Benito County Clerk - Auditor - Recorder - Registrar of Voters takes no responsibility for the views, content or accuracy of the other sites, nor does it endorse any content or products contained therein.