In addition to the availability of the Electronic Absentee System, ballots are sent to the most current address on file for eligible military and overseas citizen voters 45 days before election day. The Secretary of State encourages covered voters to submit a new FPCA every year (and each time they move).
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) created special provisions to make registering to vote, obtaining, returning and tracking absentee ballots easier for members of the armed forces and certain overseas U.S. citizens while absent from their Montana voting residence. UOCAVA electors are most commonly identified as one of the following:
- Member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty
- Spouse or dependent of a member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine on active duty.
- U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.
- Other individuals meeting definitions of “absent uniformed services voter” and “overseas voter” in Montana law (13-21-102, MCA).
Completing and returning the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to the county election office is the best way for a UOCAVA voter to register to vote. You can register to vote up to and including on election day.
The Secretary of State’s online Electronic Absentee System (EAS) provides UOCAVA voters the ability to seamlessly fill out voter registration and application for absentee ballot forms and to vote a ballot online. The EAS is available 45 days before federal elections, through 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The FPCA can also be returned to county election offices by email, fax, and mail. An online version of the FPCA, as well as mailing information and answers to frequently asked questions is available on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. Members of the military can also obtain an FPCA from their Voting Assistance Officer. Civilian overseas voters can obtain an FPCA from any U.S. embassy or consulate.
An application for an absentee ballot covers all elections held through December 31 of the year following the year of application.
Completing and returning the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to the county election office is the best way for a UOCAVA voter to request an absentee ballot. UOCAVA voters are automatically sent an absentee ballot 45 days before federal elections through the calendar year following the year in which they applied. To see if you are currently registered to vote or to check your absentee ballot mailing address, please contact your county election office or visit My Voter Page.
Although UOCAVA voters are automatically sent a ballot, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act permits UOCAVA voters to access their absentee ballot online and Montana law allows them to also return their voted absentee ballot electronically via email. Montana meets this requirement through the Electronic Absentee System, which is available for federal elections. UOCAVA voters can also request that their county election office fax or email their absentee ballot.
A FWAB is a blank write-in ballot that does not contain any offices or candidate’s names. UOCAVA voters may register, if not already registered, and vote in any election (13-21-225, MCA) using the FWAB.
Electors voting a FWAB may designate a candidate by writing in the name of the candidate or by writing in the name of the political party for which the elector is voting. A written designation of the political party will be counted as a vote for the candidate of that party. When voting in a primary election, the elector shall identify the elector’s political party affiliation as provided in the appropriate section of the ballot. In a primary election, a vote cast by writing the name of a candidate who is not affiliated with the elector’s selected party is void and may not be counted.
If the elector receives their regular absentee ballot after the elector has voted and sent a FWAB, the elector may vote and return the regular absentee ballot. Only the regular absentee ballot will be counted if both ballots are received by their respective deadlines. A FWAB must be sent by election day, and received by the county election office by 3 p.m. on the Monday following the election.
For more information about the FWAB please contact the Secretary of State’s Office by email: [email protected], phone 1-888-884-8683, or fax 1-406-444-2023.
Additional instructions and a FWAB may be found on the FVAP website.
Absentee ballots returned electronically must be sent to the county election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day and received at the county election office by 5 p.m. on the day after Election Day.
UOCAVA voters should return their absentee ballots directly to their county election office. UOCAVA voters receiving and marking their absentee ballot online using the Electronic Absentee System are able to return their absentee ballot by email, fax, and mail. Specific county contact information is provided based on the information provided by each user.
UOCAVA voters who have received and marked a paper ballot may return their absentee ballot by email, fax, and mail. All ballots must be received by the county election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, unless returning electronically. If returning an absentee ballot electronically, it must be sent to the county election office by 8 p.m. on Election day, and received by 5 p.m. the next day.
Toll-free faxing – UOCAVA absentee voters may fax their election materials toll-free to the Federal Voting Assistance Program using the numbers shown below. To use this option, you must include the official fax cover sheet available on the FVAP website.
From the U.S., Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands: (800) 368-8683, (703) 693-5527, DSN 223-5527 (Military),
For other countries – Toll-free International Fax Numbers.
If you have returned home after being stationed outside of your county of residence and have an outdated mailing address on file with your county election office, you will need to update your mailing address. The quickest way to update any part of your voter registration is to fill out a voter registration form (or a Federal Post Card Application if you will continue to be covered under UOCAVA) and send it in to your county election office.
If you would like more information or have questions about registering or voting as a voter covered under UOCAVA, contact the Secretary of State’s Office by email: [email protected] or by phone: 1-888-884-8683 / (406) 444-9608.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) also provides information for UOCAVA voters, including an absentee voting guide for Montana UOCAVA voters.