Voting season is fast approaching, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program is ready to help service members and families exercise the right to vote.
"The Federal Voting Assistance Program works to ensure service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so -- from anywhere in the world," said David Beirne, FVAP director.
Voting is a personal choice, Beirne said, but he noted that many in the military community don't realize the Defense Department has a program designed to assist them if they choose to vote. While FVAP is not a "get out the vote" program, he said, the program offers resources for the military community if they want to participate in the election process.
"There are many myths surrounding the military voting process, so the most important thing for military voters and their eligible spouses and dependents to know is that there are absentee voting resources on FVAP.gov designed to meet their voting needs when they are deployed or stationed overseas," Beirne said.
He recommends that service members start the absentee voting process early, because it takes more time than voting in person.
DON'T KNOW YOUR STATE'S ABSENTEE VOTING RULES?
FVAP.gov has information on state and national voting guidelines, registering to vote, using the Federal Post Card Application, and requesting absentee ballots. You can also use the site to check on the status of your voted ballot.
The Federal Post Card Application is a form military and overseas voters can use to register to vote and request absentee ballots for the year. Eligible voters should submit a new postcard every year and with every move to a new address. Many states allow you to submit the FPCA electronically. The FPCA can be completed by using the FPCA online assistant, filling out the PDF, or picking up a hard copy version from your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
IS FVAP JUST FOR OVERSEAS VOTERS?
FVAP resources are designed to assist any service member, voting age dependent, and overseas citizen with voting so long as they are absent from their voting jurisdiction, Beirne said.
Service members who are home and registered to vote in their home voting jurisdiction would vote by visiting their voting precinct on Election Day, he explained.
NOT SURE WHEN YOUR STATE'S ELECTIONS ARE HELD?
Check the primary election calendar for the date of each state or territory's presidential primary, state primary and whether there will be candidates standing for the U.S. Senate and House during the general election.
NEED TO FIND YOUR INSTALLATION VOTING OFFICE?
FVAP.gov can help you there, too, with its list of contact information for voting offices around the world. You can filter the list by service branch, country and base name.
DIDN'T GET YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT?
Use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. The FWAB serves as a backup ballot if the voter does not receive the requested absentee ballot in time. FVAP.gov offers an online assistant that guides users through the form-completion process, as well as a fillable PDF form of the FWAB for download.
WORRIED ABOUT SENDING YOUR BALLOT BY MAIL?
FVAP coordinates with the Military Postal Service Agency and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure the expedited return of voted ballots from overseas, Beirne said. In previous years, FVAP also worked with the services to ensure their operational conditions factor in the return of voted ballots. This is especially true for Navy ships, he said, who receive reminders to offload ballots before moving on with new operations.
SEPARATING FROM ACTIVE DUTY?
FVAP.gov can help you (and your voting-age family members) transition your voter registration status in just one or two easy steps.