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JBA offers helpful voting tips for service members

By Erika Patterson 316th Wing Force Support Squadron

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It’s election season and the Joint Base Andrews Military & Family Support Center’s voter assistance office is here to help. Erika Patterson, installation voting assistance officer, has answers to some common voting questions. 

 

What you need to know about absentee voting

Voting is a fundamental right granted to all eligible U.S. citizens. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act allows active duty service members and their families to vote absentee during federal elections. The absentee voting process is a unique challenge that UOCAVA voters must navigate to get their voices heard. The goal of JBA’s Voting Assistance Program is to increase awareness of the absentee voting process and decrease the registration obstacles for service members, spouses and dependents.

 

Registering to vote and requesting your absentee ballot

You may still be able to register to vote and request your absentee ballot, if you haven’t already. Go to FVAP.gov and click the red button that reads “Request Your Ballot Now” to fill out a Federal Post Card Application. Most states allow you to e-mail in your FPCA, but you can print it out and mail it through the United States Postal Service.

 

Voter jurisdiction

The most frequently asked question by UOCAVA voters is, where are they registered? The best way to verify your voter registration is to go to the state section of the FVAP.gov website where you think you are registered, to check if that is your jurisdiction. If you are still unsure, contact the JBA Voter Assistance Office.

 

Check your state’s deadlines

It is important to check your state’s registration deadlines. Absentee ballots are most commonly rejected because they are received after the deadline (Federal Voting Assistance Program, 2016 Post Election Report to Congress, 2017). Submit your FPCA as soon as possible to ensure it is received before the deadline.

 

Submit your absentee ballot

Absentee Ballots were mailed out on Sept. 19 and should be in your mailbox or inbox. Fill out your ballot and submit it as soon as it is received to ensure that you meet the deadline.

 

Using a federal write-in absentee ballot

In the event you do not receive your absentee ballot, you can vote using a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as a backup. This form can also be used by active duty in the uniformed services or merchant marine, an eligible spouse or dependent, or if you are a U.S. citizen living outside the United States. You can find the ballot on FVAP.gov. If you mail a FWAB and subsequently receive your absentee ballot, still submit your absentee ballot and your election office will only count one vote.

 

Checking for successful FPCA and absentee ballot receipt

If you would like to verify that your FPCA or Absentee Ballot was received, your state may have a Track My Ballot website that you can utilize. You can find these websites with an internet search. You can also call your county election board to confirm successful receipt.

 

How long does registration take?

It shouldn’t take any longer than 30 days from the time you submit your application. If you're concerned that you won't receive your ballot before the deadline, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot form as a backup.

 

Do I have to do this with each permanent change of station?

Each time you PCS you must complete a new application to update your address and request an absentee ballot.

 

How do I stay up to date with each PCS?

Contact your local election office in the state in which you have moved. Contact your base’s voting assistance officer and visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website for monthly updates or to sign up to receive voter alerts.

If you have questions about the absentee voting process, please contact the JBA Installation Voter Assistance Office by phone at 301-981-8683 or by e-mail at 11fss.andrews.voting@us.af.mil. To access forms, resources or to view your state’s voting requirements, visit FVAP.gov.