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When you fill out your ballot request, be sure to choose email as the delivery option so you’ll get your ballot as quickly as possible. If you’ve already sent in your request but didn’t ask to receive your ballot by email, you can submit a new one. Every state is required by federal law to make ballots available to overseas voters electronically upon request.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can use email to send your ballot back. More than 20 states require most overseas voters to return their ballots by mail, including Texas and New York. Voters from these states are most likely to run into problems.

“We really want to make sure those voters are leaning forward and can anticipate how they’re going to take action to participate in the election,” said David Beirne, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

It is crucial that voters from mail-only states send in their completed ballots well before Election Day on Nov. 3. If you’re worried about using international airmail, one option is to ask your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to send your ballot by diplomatic pouch. But not every embassy is offering this service, delivery could take six weeks or more, and your ballot would still need to wind its way through the U.S. postal system to your local election office. You can also use an express delivery service like FedEx or DHL, but the longer you wait, the more it will cost you.

Whichever way you choose, if you have to mail your ballot back, do it as soon as you receive it. Under federal law, election offices are required to send requested ballots to overseas voters at least 45 days before the election, which in this case is Sept. 19. Don’t want to wait that long? You can send a backup ballot now (more on that below).

The Military Postal Service Agency has its own list of recommended mailing dates, and service members can get more information from their Installation Voter Assistance Office.

Some states, including California and Florida, will accept completed ballots by fax but not email. If you don’t have access to a fax machine, the Federal Voting Assistance Program offers a free email-to-fax service.