“There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters.” – President Barack Obama
A gentle reminder: The general election is November 3rd.
Military families, within the 48 contiguous states, Alaska and Hawaii and Overseas locations are faced with voting challenges in elections – voting absentee. It is a myth that absentee ballots are not counted. In fact, all ballots are counted for the final totals – so both absentee and in-person votes count. Even if you are no longer residing where you are registered to vote, Service members and their eligible family members voting rights are protected by The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) to vote absentee. The Federal Voting Assistance Program, FVAP, is a valuable resource for military families to enter their information to request absentee ballots, dates to postmark requests and absentee ballots by for counting, find your election office and check the status of your voted ballot.
According to vote.org, absentee voting is conducted by mail in ballot before the day of Election Day.
As a Service member, you can vote absentee while living away from your voting residence.
How to request an absentee ballot?
If you haven’t requested your absentee ballot, check your specific state to see if you have time to send in the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA. The FPCA is the request card requesting an absentee ballot. This requires printing and mailing it in, which can add more time to the request. Some states have gone digital, so check your specific election office.
Each state has different rules and may have varying deadlines for requesting and submitting absentee ballots. Make sure to check what your state’s requirements and deadlines are for absentee ballot voting.
Can I check to see if I already requested an absentee ballot?
If you want to see if you have already requested your absentee ballot, check the election office for where you are registered to vote. If you aren’t sure where you are registered to vote – check your Leave and Earning Statement – your voting residence is where you pay taxes. Military dependents voting residence typically coincides with where you claim residence. For dependents who turn 18 overseas, voting residence can be established by the last U.S. address held before moving overseas. Once you know your voting residence, click your state on the guide map on FVAP to check on the status of your request for absentee.
The date to request an absentee ballot depends on the state and are typically in early October, so check now.
What to do after I request my absentee ballot?
Absentee Ballots should arrive by early October. If they do not arrive check the FVAP for what options you may have. You can also check with your election office. Some states may have digital information available which can check the status of your request, and if your ballot has mailed.
Worst-case scenario, if you requested your absentee ballot but it will not arrive in time to send the ballot back by your state’s deadline, there is an emergency ballot called a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or FWAB. FVAP has a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot that can be completed on a computer, printed, signed and mailed here. Remember to use this as a last resort.
While waiting for your absentee ballot to arrive, read and research the platforms of the candidates on the ballot. Learn and discern so you are prepared when you ballot arrives.
I received my ballot, now what?
Follow the directions on the ballot in regards to how to fill-in the ballot, and where to sign as proof that it is you and completed by you.
Send it back in!
Each state has varying deadlines for sending an absentee ballot back, so make sure to know what your state’s deadlines are. These deadlines are to there to ensure your ballot makes it back in time to be counted for the election.
The general deadlines are:
October 5, 2020 if you are on a ship out at sea
October 13, 2020 if you are living OCONUS
October 27, 2020 if living within the U.S.
Have more questions?
A general guide for absentee ballot voting is available on the FVAP website. Each state varies on election board names
Heather Walsh is a mom, Marine wife, Navy child, blogger, and lover of all things crafty and Disney. Professionally, she is a Physician Assistant and writer and has a passion for helping others to stay positive and supported. She has been writing since KidPix was on a floppy disk! She is one of three women who founded MilMomAdventures, sharing travel and lifestyle tips for the military family at www.milmomadventures.com . When she isn’t crafting with her kiddos, going on the next adventure, or writing for MilMomAdventures, she has contributed to NextGen MilSpouse, Daily Mom Military and Military Disney Tips while reheating her first cup of coffee for the tenth time.