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Officials ease voting process for active duty, civilians

By Robert Goetz | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Aug. 15, 2012

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — With the 2012 general election less than three months away, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph active-duty members and civilian employees unsure of the voting process can find the help they need from the base's voting assistance officers.

These installation and unit representatives are trained to help people register to vote, request an absentee ballot and provide their local election officials with a change of address.

"The main thing for active-duty folks is to make sure their contact information is correct and to not wait until the last minute," Ernesto Canciller, installation voting assistance officer, said.

Active-duty personnel who have not registered to vote can accomplish several tasks by completing a federal post card application, which allows them to register to vote and request an absentee ballot from local election officials in their state of legal residence, as well as submit a change of address, he said.

Canciller said copies of the FPCA are available from him and Randolph's unit voting assistance officers. He also said the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, www.fvap.gov, is a user-friendly way to navigate the voting process.

Voters who have already registered may simply request a federal write-in absentee ballot, or FWAB, by using the FVAP website, Canciller said. By following prompts on the website, users are provided a completed form that must be printed, signed, dated and returned to election officials.

According to the FVAP website, states and territories are required to mail ballots at least 45 days before an election. Voters who have not received their ballot 30 days before the election should contact their election official.

Another form available on the FVAP website is the national mail voter registration form, which should be used by active-duty members if they are separating, retiring or residing in their voting jurisdiction to inform local election officials they are registering to vote or changing their address.

Canciller said learning the voting process is especially important for active-duty members because of disruptions caused by permanent changes of station and deployments. Service members who are deployed during an election must use the absentee process if they wish to vote, while active-duty personnel and eligible family members, especially after a recent move to a new duty station, may have to vote absentee.

"We present the information during newcomers' orientations," he said. "Deployers have a separate briefing."

Active-duty members at Randolph whose "legal voting residence" is Texas may vote locally, but they must be registered as well.

According to voting information provided on the Air Force Personnel Center website, the legal voting residence "can be the state or territory where the service member last resided prior to entering military service or the state or territory that a service member has since claimed as the legal residence." Active-duty personnel and their family members can also "choose to change their legal residence every time they change permanent duty stations."

Canciller said Randolph's voting assistance office is planning an absentee voting drive the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 4.

"We will have a booth set up at the base exchange and have blank forms to help people fill out," he said. "We want people to complete and mail their absentee ballots so local election officials receive them in a timely manner."

Canciller urged people who plan to vote to register if necessary and be aware of absentee voting requirements.

"It's important that they check with their state as soon as possible," he said. "They should start now, because as we get closer to the election, those offices will get busier and busier."

For more information, contact the voting assistance office at 652-2727/8959 or Randolph.vote@us.af.mil.