When you live around the
corner from your local polling place, voting doesn't require a lot of
planning on your part. Just head over before the polls close, right? But
what happens when you are away from your registered district or deployed
overseas? You obviously can't walk to your local polling place, but
voting can be just as easy. When military life takes you away from home
― with a deployment or a move ― you and your family members can use an
absentee ballot and ensure your voices are heard on Election Day.
with absentee voting
It only takes a few quick steps to
make sure your vote is counted no matter where you are in the world.
Complete the Federal Post
Card Application ― The FPCA is a quick and easy way to start the
absentee voting process. It's standardized for use across all states
and acts as both a registration and an absentee ballot request form
in one! You can fill it out
online with the help of an assistant, download a
PDF version or pick up a hardcopy
version from your unit voting assistance officer.
Sign and send the FPCA to
your local election office ― Your
local election office
is the county where you have established residency. You can find the
address you need and more information about your state's
instructions for how to do this
here. You can also ask for the address from your voting
assistance officer. You qualify for free postage if you use the
Receive your absentee ballot
Votes from service members and their
families who are away from their home state or overseas make up an
important part of every election. Often people have the false idea that
absentee ballots only count in close elections and that's just not true!
The difference is that in a close election, the media reports that the
outcome can't be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted,
but all ballots are counted in the final totals for every election.
Handling the "what
What if you don't receive your
ballot on time and the deadline is approaching? What if you don't know
when your state's deadline is because you just moved? Don't worry ― you
Use an emergency backup
ballot ― If you do not receive your ballot and are in danger of
missing the absentee voting deadline, your voting assistance officer
can provide you with an emergency or backup ballot called an
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or you can use the
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot online assistant to walk you
through filling out the form. All states accept this ballot for all
Know your state's absentee
deadline ― Every state sets its own deadline for when absentee
ballot applications are due, as well as for the ballots themselves,
so make sure you figure it out ahead of time. You can learn
everything you need to know about your state's deadlines
here. In addition, the Military Postal Service Agency estimates
mail delivery times from all over the world before each
election, so they take the guesswork out of it for you.
Submit a new FPCA every year
and when you move ― To avoid all of stress of approaching
deadlines, submit a new FPCA every year and when you move. This way
you are prepared for every election season and don't have to pray to
the mail gods to get your vote delivered on time.
programs who can help
Whether you like to go online to get
information or talk to someone in person, there are resources available
Get to know your voting
assistance officer ― Your
assistance officer is responsible for getting you any materials
you need to register to vote and file an absentee ballot.
Become familiar with all the
resources available through the Federal Voting Assistance Program
― The FVAP
works to ensure service members and their eligible family members
have the tools and resources to vote successfully from anywhere in
the world. The FVAP website includes helpful
service-specific information, applications, contact information
You can also contact them by phone
at 800-438-VOTE (8683)
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*AFI 36-3107 voting assistance program Paragraph 1.1.3. Ensure
basic training emphasizes and advertises voting assistance programs to
encourage junior service members to register and subsequently vote, and
include instruction on voting rights, responsibilities, and procedures
on absentee registration and voting.
There should be a voting assistance officer assigned to brief and work
the trainees through the absentee voting process. I should add that
every base is required to have at least one Installation Voting
Assistance Officer (IVAO) to help all with the voting process...
This official link for all that are away from home of record for
Military One Source: Absentee Voting