The Voting Process for Service Members

Election Day is quickly approaching! Historically, military voting is consistently low due to the complicated voting process. For those overseas or going through a recent move, making sure you and your family’s vote is counted can be tricky. Review these guidelines and recommendations so you can make your vote count!

If you’re in the process of moving …
If you’re in the process of moving, it can be hard to keep track of the voting laws where you will reside. Each state has different requirements, but generally if you can show that you’ve been physically present in that state (i.e. taxes, car registration, driver’s license, etc.), you should be able to establish your residency. Keep in mind: some states have longer or shorter periods of time that they require you to live there before you can register to vote. Learn more.

If you’re overseas …
If you’re overseas and away from your home state, you can request an absentee ballot through the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You also have the option of receiving an absentee ballot request form from your state. Federal law requires voters to allow at least 30 days prior to an election to request an absentee ballot. Once your state receives your request, they must send you the ballot at least 45 days before a general, primary or special election.

If your ballot is lost or does not come to you in time, you may use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as a backup option.

Most states only accept ballots by mail, which means putting yours in the mail weeks in advance to meet the deadline. In some states, ballots can be returned by fax.

If you need some extra help …
Your base is required to appoint a voting assistance officer (VAO) to ensure that military and overseas voters understand their voting rights and how to register and vote absentee, and to provide accurate, nonpartisan voting information and assistance.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is also a helpful resource. It was established to encourage service members to vote. The program explains each state’s requirements, deadlines, and gives detailed instructions. It also helps eligible family members living outside of their jurisdictions to send in absentee votes.

Even with the challenges, your vote does matter. Many have suffered for our right to vote. As our service members, you uphold this right. Voting is yet another opportunity to serve our country.

Sources:, Federal Voting Assistance Program

Posted on September 18 2016 in Blog

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