Routine Message to U.S. Citizens: General Elections are almost 30 days away – Register, Vote, Send!

DISSEMINATING ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING

U.S. citizens can vote from wherever they are—including Nigeria!  Now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  If you have never voted while overseas before, it’s not too late.  

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about voting from abroad.

Q:  Should I show up at the Embassy or Consulate on November 3 to cast my ballot?

A:  Please don’t!  Embassies aren’t polling places.  Elections are run at the state level, so you must communicate directly with your state to register, request a ballot, and vote.

Q:  Where should I start?

A:  Register and request a ballot from your home state.  Turn in your ballot per your state’s instructions.  The Federal Voting Assistance Program can walk you through the steps.

Q:  Which state should I register with?

A:  Your voting residence is usually your last address in the United States before moving abroad.  See more here.

Q:  Can I vote if I have never lived in the United States?

A:  Possibly.  You can research your specific situation here.

Q:  When will I receive my ballot?

A:  Election offices are required to send absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election.  If you requested your ballot by email, then the ballot should arrive right away.  Mailed ballots will take longer.  Do not request your ballot to be sent to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos or the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.

Q:  If my ballot doesn’t arrive in time, am I out of luck?

A:  You can still vote!  If you do not receive an absentee ballot in time to return it to your state, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as a backup to vote for federal offices.  (If your official absentee ballot arrives after you send in the FWAB, then you can fill out and send in the official ballot as well.  Your state will count only one.)

Q:  How should I return my ballot?

A:  Follow your state’s instructions.  If you must return your ballot by mail, the U.S. Embassy can help.  Bring your U.S. postage-paid envelope to us, and we will get it to a U.S. post office.

Dropping Completed Ballot at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate: If you are sending your ballot through the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or Consulate General in Lagos, ballots can be dropped off at the front security entrance on a walk-in basis Monday – Thursday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  You do not need an appointment or identification to drop off your ballot. Ballots must be addressed to local election offices and placed in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient U.S. domestic postage so they may be delivered to the proper local election authorities.  Postage from Nigeria to the United States is not required using this method.

Please note that it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent through the Embassy or Consulate.  Therefore, the deadline to submit your ballots to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is Monday, October 5, 2020. If you miss this deadline, U.S. citizens still have the option to send the ballot via international courier services such as UPS and FedEx.

Please note that all visitors to the Embassy and Consulate are subject to security screening.  Anyone entering the security perimeter is required to wear a face mask.  People with symptoms of COVID19 will be prohibited from entering.

Using international courier services to send in your completed ballot through international courier services: The U.S. Mission in Nigeria has coordinated with UPS, FedEx, DHL to accept mail in ballots nationwide.  Shipping fees will apply. UPS has offered a discounted shipping rate for mail-in ballots.

Please note:  Although FedEx, through their local partners RedStar Express, will accept mail in ballots, they are unable to ship to a P.O. box.  Please review your voting office mailing address to determine the mailing address.

For more information on residential pickups or drop off locations, please contact UPS, RedStar Express, or DHL using the information below:

UPS:

Email: ngcustomerservice@ups.com
Phone: +234 9 06 550 9044

RedStar Express:

Email: mib@redstarplc.com
Phone: +2348165989915 or +2348038072449

DHL:

Phone: +2348039077000

Q:  When should I return my ballot?

A:  The recommended vote-by day for U.S. Citizens living overseas is October 5, 2020, but the sooner, the better.

For any remaining questions or concerns, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance program website.

For information on security in Nigeria:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, the Travel Advisories and Alerts, the Nigeria Travel Advisory, the Nigeria Country Information, and the Crime and Safety Reports for Nigeria
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja,located at Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive, Central District Area, at +234 (9) 461-4000, prompt 2 [ACS only], Monday – Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +234 (9) 461-4000 and press zero. Email at AbujaACS@state.gov for American services.
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate in Lagos,located 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, at +234 (1) 460-3400, Monday – Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +234 (1) 460 3400.  Email LagosACS@state.gov for American Services.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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