U.S.

June 15, 2012

Voting assistance helps give Airmen voice

By Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Voting holds roots in American culture dating back to 1787, when the right to vote was established by the United States Constitution.

Today, voting is a crucial part of American society that allows the American People to determine the leadership of its government.

The voting assistance office encourages and enables Airmen to use their right to vote by informing them of upcoming elections, helping them process and file absentee ballots and encouraging them to participate in election by voting.

Every Airman has the right for their voice to be heard in their hometown, regardless of their rank, position or distance from the hometown.

“Air Force policy is designed to facilitate a member’s participation in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship,” said Capt. Kalen Fredette, chief of legal assistance and preventative law. “Voting is both a right and a responsibility, as well as completely permissible and encouraged. A member short changes himself/herself by not taking advantage of this program.”

Air Force regulations prohibit Airmen from participating in political demonstrations while in uniform. Airmen are also restricted from taking part in any radio, T.V., or other form of group discussion while representing the military, according to AFI 51-902, Political Activities by Members of the U.S. Air Force.

However, Airmen still have the right to, and are encouraged to vote. Air Force members may register to vote, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, just not as a representative of the armed forces.

A vote is defined as the means by which expression of opinion is made, as a ballot, ticket, etc.” It’s also defined as the right to such expression.

Every service member is permitted to vote in his or her registered state. This entitlement ensures every voice is heard, even if they aren’t physically located in their state of residency any longer due to service.

Airmen participating in this form of voting use absentee ballots. These ballots must be sent in, usually mail, prior to Election Day.

Absentee voting by mail is allowed with no excuse in 28 states, and with an excuse in 22. ‘No excuse’ states do not require the voter to provide reason for using an absentee ballot. Acceptable excuse for using absentee ballots in the other states include being: unavoidably absent from the county on election day (such as by being stationed out of state), unable to appear at the polls due to illness or disability, a patient in a Veterans’ Administration Hospital, detained in jail awaiting Grand Jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, passed in 1986, allows for U.S. citizens residing overseas to register to vote and vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.

The act of voting is a right and responsibility for all United States citizens. For more information about the voting assistance office, contact your unit voting assistance representative.




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