Commentary

October 11, 2012

Request an absentee ballot today

Commentary by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, members of this country will flock to polling places around the country. Voters of all races, political parties, and demographics will actively participate in the selection of the next president of the United States.

We, as service men and women, must vote in our official “state of residence.” Most of us, however, don’t live anywhere close to our home of record and don’t plan to fly back just to cast a vote. This is where absentee ballots come into play.

An absentee ballot is a ballot completed and mailed before an election by a voter unable to be present at the polls.

This fits the description of an active-duty military member perfectly; miles away from home but still wanting to exercise their right to vote.

You can apply for a ballot through the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which provides U.S. citizens worldwide information and assistance with their participation in American elections. Visit FVAP.gov to register to vote and request an absentee ballot from the election office in your home of record.

The process is very simple. I selected my state and county, entered some personal information, and had my request form in less than 15 minutes. Once you have your request form, print it out and mail it to your local election office, an address FVAP will provide you with.

Although the process is quick and easy, receiving your ballot can take a little longer. A good rule to follow when voting by absentee ballot is to get started early to ensure you meet any deadlines. Once you receive your ballot, the FVAP suggests that citizens should fill it out as soon as they receive it and return the ballot to their local election office.

If you got a late start and are just now registering for your ballot, you should complete and mail the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot to your local election office while you wait for your ballot to arrive. This way, your vote will arrive in time to be counted. Once your official ballot arrives, complete that and send it in as well. If both ballots arrive before the election date, the official one will be counted.

I encourage every member of the Desert Lightning Team to register for their absentee ballot and send it in. Voting is one of the many rights we fight for as defenders of this nation, so we should be the first to exercise it.




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