The most historic election in modern United States History is right around the corner! Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers, are you ready to cast your ballots? If you are at home, it is essential to make sure you are registered! With the COVID-19 pandemic, this year will see unprecedented volumes of vote by mail participation. There are two types of mail-in ballots: Universal (unsolicited) and Absentee (solicited). The distinction is often blurred in the media, as a Universal Ballot is simply sent out en masse to residences in a district according to voter rolls, whether the people are still there or not. Absentee Ballots are far more secure and must be requested by the individual voter to be sent out. Any Service Member who plans on voting this year but is either abroad or living away from their legal state of residence, must request an Absentee Ballot in order to vote.
Registering yourself to vote is, of course, the first priority. Many states have deadlines by which you need to be registered, so figuring that out is the first step. A very helpful resource for this is available through vote.org, which has deadlines listed by state. An important distinction pointed out by Military.com is that many states require an absentee voter to register every year. According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), military personnel are typically registered to vote according to the state listed on their “Leave and Earnings Statement.” If you are unsure of how to go about registering yourself, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program portal, fvap.gov, to begin the registration process.
Once you are registered, a ballot will be sent to you from your home state. You can request your Absentee Ballot through the Federal Post Card Application, found here. Depending on your location, you can expect to receive your absentee ballot by one of three dates, all of which fall in October. According to resources available through the FVAP, if you are currently at sea, your Absentee Ballot should arrive to the ship by October 5th. If you are serving abroad, the ballot should arrive to you by October 13th, and if you are stateside, but outside your legal state of residence, the ballot should arrive by October 27th. If you have applied for an Absentee Ballot, but it hasn’t arrived yet, or you are concerned that it won’t arrive on time, contact the local election office in your home state. Finally, if you’ve don’t all of these things but are still awaiting the ballot, or are concerned that it won’t be counted, you can vote through a back-up Write In Ballot, found here. If you cast both ballots, the one that arrives first will be counted and the second will not.
For any additional assistance, all installations will have a Voting Assistance Officer (VAO) at a local Voter Assistance Office, which can be found here.
Remember, your voice is important! Federal Elections are often significantly impacted by our many Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers sending in their ballots, either at home or abroad. This year, make sure your vote counts!
We need to come together to support and vote in as many Veteran candidates running for elected positions as possible. Our Veterans have the opportunity and tools to fight against the corruption and mismanagement of our government from within- but they need our help and our vote. Will you support Veterans running for office in upcoming elections? Read more here.