Voting Info for American Expats
The 2012 election race has kicked into high gear, and we're less than five months away from November 6th, when Americans must cast their ballots. Even if you're an expat living abroad, you should make your voice heard; decisions made on the federal level reverberate throughout the world, influencing international politics and affecting your life as an expat. With an estimated four to six million U.S. citizens living abroad, our votes can make a difference.
Our next president and future members of Congress will help determine U.S. foreign policy – and this affects residents of Costa Rica. If Costa Rica and Nicaragua come into conflict again, will the United States respond? If you receive a pension, your cost of living increases will affect your bottom line in Costa Rica. And consider this: the Tax Equity and Middle Class Fairness Act of 2011, currently introduced to the House of Representatives, would end the foreign income exemption that allows U.S. expats to earn up to $92,900 a year abroad without paying income taxes.
If you have a high-speed Internet connection, you can stay up-to-date on campaign topics and watch political news for free on live streaming video. To watch the presidential debates, simply visit the website of the channel hosting the debate (CNN, for example) and navigate to the debate. This content is free and is not restricted to U.S. IP addresses. To research your local candidates for Congress and other offices, you can also visit BallotBook.com, a nonpartisan website. You can register for free and plug in your home zip code, and you'll have access to information on each candidate, including what the Internet is saying about each.
If you plan to vote in this year's election, you should register online as soon as possible, either at FVAP.gov or VoteFromAbroad.org. Note that due to a 2010 change to U.S. law, Americans living abroad are required to re-register to vote every year. The U.S. Embassy and the Costa Rican chapters of Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad are also available to help citizens register to vote abroad – no political affiliation necessary. These organizations also provide help in casting absentee ballots from abroad.
Did you know that Costa Rican law requires citizen to vote? While the United States does not practice compulsory voting, exercising this right is a privilege. Vote in 2012!