It's time to return that absentee ballot

There’s less than a month before the Nov. 8 election, so it's time to get serious if you're voting absentee.

While deadlines and registration requirements differ by state, one rule remains: The earlier, the better. That applies whether you're voting from overseas, or from a few states away from your home district.

Depending on the state, you might be able to accomplish some or all of the process electronically. DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program office website, www.fvap.gov, gives you everything you need to know about voting and directs you to your state’s specific requirements.   

Some last-minute guidance:

  • If you’ve requested an absentee ballot and it hasn’t arrived, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Want some help? Click on your state using FVAP's online ballot site and then use the "Get My Ballot" link for details, including information on races in your home district.
  • FVAP officials advise that if you get your state absentee ballot after you’ve already sent the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, you should still complete and return it, too. States will count only one ballot from each person.
  • The Military Postal Service Agency has free expedited ballot delivery and tracking for overseas military members and their family members. The local military postal clerk will place the Label 11-DoD on the ballot envelope. If you’re overseas, you can find out the recommended mailing dates for ensuring your ballot gets back in time by visiting MPSA’s website.
  • Haven't even registered yet? It might not be too late, depending on your state. A quick look at a few deadlines shows there’s still time to register in North Carolina, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona, California and Kansas, for instance. Check here for your state’s voter registration deadlines. Not sure if you're registered? Contact your local election office.
  • Even if you’ve registered to vote before, and have voted in previous elections, your state is no longer required to automatically send absentee ballots. Request that ballot as soon as possible; contact your unit's voting assistance officer or your installation's voting assistance office, or head to FVAP.gov if you're not sure how to start the process.

From the beginning of the year through Oct. 8, there were 74,919 downloads of the FWAB, according to Federal Voting Assistance Program officials. That’s down by 3,168 from the same period during 2012, the last presidential election year.

Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at kjowers@militarytimes.com.


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