The US Ambassador to France has this advice for Americans in France in the run-up to the US election on November 3: Get your vote in early, and certainly before October 13, as then it is guaranteed to arrive. Overseas voters, of which there are three million, have long relied on the postal system to send in their ballot papers but this year more Americans are expected to vote by post due to the pandemic.
This has caused controversy, with claims that the new head of the US postal service, a Trump ally, has made cuts and changes likely to slow the service down. A survey showed Democrat voters were more likely to vote by post. The president himself has criticised postal voting, saying “there’s tremendous fraud” and the system is a “disaster”.
This uncertainty may dissuade overseas voters more than others. The Federal Voting Assistance Program estimates only around 9% of the 169,037 eligible citizens in France voted in the last US election. Globally, only 6.9% of overseas citizens voted. Nonetheless, US Ambassador Jamie McCourt recommends voters in France maintain faith in the process. “We have a proven process and we have to let the process get carried out,” she said. “Then people should peacefully abide by the result. That’s why their vote counts so much.”
For voters still concerned about sending ballots by post, there are dedicated postboxes outside the US Embassy in Paris and US consulates in Marseille and Strasbourg. Election results may be delayed this year due to more demand for postal votes. “My hope, for all Americans, is that we have an answer on the evening of the election, so we have clarity going forward,” Ms McCourt added.