Commentary

June 29, 2012

Armed Forces Voting Week Thursday through July 7

Fired up to vote with FVAP

by Master Sgt. Larry Morgan Jr.
309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit

Mark your calendar for Nov. 6. It is an important date to remember this year. This date is commonly known as Election Day.

Americans across the nation will be casting their ballots. This constitutional right is also just as important for uniformed service members and our families. There’s no better way to exercise this right than by voting to choose who will best represent us and make decisions that will affect our lives, families and careers. This opportunity does not diminish because of our distance from the voting booth. With this in mind, the federal government created the Federal Voting Assistance Program to ensure our voting needs are met.

FVAP exists to allow military members and their families the ability to cast a valid ballot, which is counted from anywhere in the world. A FVAP website, www.fvap.gov, was created for voter registration, absentee voting and additional voting information.

A digital wizard navigates applicants through the process of either registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot. First time voters can complete applications online with the option to sign and mail back to the appropriate voting registrar, which is in the state you claimed legal residence. Some states also allow signed applications to be faxed or e-mailed. This is the first step in the voting process. You have to be a registered voter before you can vote by absentee ballot.

So what exactly is absentee voting? If you are unable to attend your polling place in person on Election Day, you will have to vote by absentee ballot. Since military service can take you overseas or to another state, most military members and their families have to vote by absentee ballot. Request an absentee ballot from the FVAP website by completing an online ballot request form and sending it to the appropriate registrar. Service members can also update their address on the website every time their duty station changes. This ensures voters receive their absentee ballots for local, state and federal elections. The key is to send the ballot back. It is important to remember that most ballots are due back by the election date. Be mindful that postal delivery can encounter delays, so as soon as you get your ballot, send it back immediately.

The FVAP website also provides state primary/general election dates, deadlines for registration, state voting laws, sample ballots and absentee ballots for every state. Voters also have access to an extensive frequently asked questions database for reference. This program also sends out voting tips to people who “like” the FVAP page on Facebook. As more service members and families are made aware of FVAP the more likely they are to register and vote.

Remember, everyone has a right and an obligation to vote, and with the assistance of FVAP no one should miss the opportunity to make their vote count. Our federal government is concerned about our right to vote by making it easier for us and our families. With the click of a button the FVAP website gives us full access to voting. Let’s get fired up to vote.




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