Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as U.S. citizens. 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.
Elections are managed individually by 50 States, U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the District of Columbia. This equates to 55 sets of rules for absentee voting by military families, but, according to FVPA, the basic steps are simple:
1. Citizens register to vote and request an absentee ballot by filling out the Federal Post Card Application and mailing it to their local election official in their state of legal residence.
2. The election official approves the FPCA, disapproves the FPCA or requests additional clarifying information.
3. Once the FPCA is approved, the election official sends an absentee ballot to the citizen.
4. The citizen completes and returns their voted ballot to their local election official by their state’s deadline.
To successfully vote absentee, military families should:
• Allow plenty of time to request, receive and return their ballot.
• Notify their local election official each time their mailing address changes.
• Become familiar with their State’s absentee voting deadlines and procedures to make sure their ballot is properly executed and will be counted.
• Complete a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot early if unsure of the time required to return the ballot to meet the state’s deadline.
Your command should make FPCA’s accessible to you through your designated voting assistance officer no later than Jan. 15 to ensure ample time to determine your states rules and deadlines for absentee voting. If you haven’t received or are having trouble with the voter registration process, you can reach out to the Coast Guard Service Voting Action Officer.
For more information on voting in the military, visit the FVAP’s military voter website.