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Make your voice heard

Former Anchorage mayor George P. Wuerch helps family member Kimberly Peck and her husband, Spc. Dustan Peck, A Company, 307th Integrated Tactical Signal Battalion, register to vote at the Elmendorf Air Force Base Joint Military Mall July 11.

Everything there is to know about General Election voting using an absentee ballot

PAO Staff Report

Unit Federal Voting Assistance Officers

Fort Richardson
Installation VAO Bob Hall 384-2546
4-25th BCT Capt. Glandis Culpepper

384-1067

USARAK 1st Lt. Jeff Brown 384-1263
  Melvin Sage-El 384-1972
1-501st Staff Sgt. Dominic Person 384-2992
1-40th 1st Lt. Matthew Bate

384-9594

  2nd Lt. Michael Chen 384-2748
164th MP 2nd Lt. Daniel Rothenberger 952-4238
2-377th            2nd Lt. George Collin (865) 809-5714
  1st Lt. Nathan Lausch 384-9196
  Chief Warrant Officer Don Ellibee 384-3423
MEPS Capt. Nicole Wood 941-9407
17th CSSB Master Sgt. Linda Horton 384-9270
  Staff Sgt. Beverly Davis 384-9270
C/84th Eng. 2nd Lt. Owen Rose 384-3366
4th QM 1st Lt. Alexander Jehle 350-6448
725th BSB Capt. Ryan Johnson 384-0654
425th BSTB Sgt. Kevin Torres 384-1347
98th Maint. Chief Warrant Officer Charmaine Level 384-7842
Fort Wainwright
Installation VAO Nancy Bahr 353-7629
NWTC            Peter Smith 353-1165
9th Army Band Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Surber 361-6398
28th MP 2nd Lt. Mario Carpanzano 353-6896
507th Sig. Sgt. Lourdes Rodriguez

353-6263

MEDDAC Capt. David Elliot 361-5247
  Sgt. 1st Class Hector Jaime 361-5019
  Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Brockway 361-5241
  Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Smith 361-5228
  Sgt. 1st Class Deidre Cobbins 361-5246
  Sgt. 1st Class Terrinita Smith 361-5312
  Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Spencer 361-5978
DENTAC Capt. Brent Creer

361-5513

Veterinary Capt. Matthew Wegner 361-9322
HHC, USAG John Atwood 353-2702
125th Fin. 2nd Lt. Luke McKenney 353-1366
HHC/1-25st SBCT Maj. John McCabe 353-2601
HHC/3-21st IN Sgt. 1st Class Jeramy Thompson 353-4602
A/3-21st          Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Nicholson

353-4664

B/3-21st 2nd Lt. Justin Green 353-4733
C/3-21st 1st Lt. Chris Hassen 353-4757
1-5th 1st Lt. Kenneth Plecha 353-2519
HHC/1-5th 1st Lt. Joseph Williams 353-2546
A/1-5th 2nd Lt. Joseph Tague 353-2529
B/1-5th 2nd Lt. Brandon McNaughton

353-9702

C/1-5th 2nd Lt. Todd Klutz 353-2889
1-24th 2nd Lt. Joshua Reed 353-2449
A/1-24th 1st Lt. Charles Molnar 353-2474
B/1-24th 1st Lt. Donald Meihaus 353-2430
C/1-24th 1st Lt. Philip Hokenson 353-2777
2-8th 1st Lt. Lucas Sandidge 353-1577
HHSB, 2-8th 1st Lt.  Jerimiah Galloway 353-4638
A/2-8th 1st Lt.  Kari Nishimoto 353-1545
B/2-8th 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Reese 353-3468
C/2-8th 1st Lt. Brian Cotter

353-1569

HHT/5-1st 1st Lt. Gregory Meyer 353-4295
A/5-1st 1st Lt. Peter Syverson 353-4229
B/5-1st 1st Lt. Nicholas Wood 353-4043
C/5-1st 2nd Lt. Paul Kelly 353-7250
D/5-1st 2nd Lt. Christopher Cramer 353-4136
25th BSB 1st Lt. Michelle Tu 353-2718
HHC/1-25th BSB 1st Lt. John Mossman 353-2718
D/25th BSB 1st Lt. Paul Ethier 353-1818
FMC/25th BSB 1st Lt. Michael Long 353-2304
BSMC/25th BSB 1st Lt. Zina Roberts 353-2885
539th Trans. 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Hays 353-0354
BTB Capt. Marcia Irizarry 353-9910
73rd Eng. 1st Lt. Wallace Bandeff 353-1595
184th MI 1st Lt. Georgiana White 353-9655
  2nd Lt. Gedaliah Scharold 353-9649
176th Sig 1st Lt. Christopher Nau 353-7767
D/52nd 2nd Lt. Matthew Delvaux 353-9575
6-17th 1st Lt. Larry Lipsey 353-0524
1-52nd 1st Lt. Steven Hoak 353-3010
A/1-52nd Capt. John Vos 353-7492
A/1-52nd Chief Warrant Officer 2 Heather Oglesby 353-0270
C/1-52nd Chief Warrant Officer 2 C. Matthews 447-8317
E/1-52nd Chief Warrant Officer Travis Hall 353-7735
HHC/1-52nd 2nd Lt. Kathy Maldonado 353-7579
C/123rd 1st Lt. Jerome Reitano 353-7579

The basics of the absentee voting process:

Step 1: Complete and mail the Federal Post Card Application Form (SF-76), Registration and Absentee Ballot Request Form.

Step 2: Local election official approves registration request or requests further information.

Step 3: Local election official mails absentee ballot.

Step 4: Citizen votes and mails the absentee ballot to the local election official in time to meet state deadlines. In order to receive an absentee ballot in a timely manner, it is imperative for citizens to keep their local election official informed of address changes.

Qualifying to vote absentee and determining where to vote

What is UOCAVA?           

UOCAVA stands for the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, enacted in 1986. The Federal Voting Assistance Program has been charged with administering the UOCAVA and works on behalf of all UOCAVA citizens to ensure their right to vote in their respective states and territories and to assist them in that process, no matter where in the world they may be residing.

Am I a UOCAVA voter?    

You are UOCAVA voter if you are a U.S. citizen 18 years or older and one or more of the following:

What is the difference between a UOCAVA voter and an absentee voter?

Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot, rather than going to the polls on Election Day. Each of the 55 states and territories has different policies and rules regarding how to register and vote absentee.

However, UOCAVA voters are a subset of the absentee voting population. In order to qualify as a UOCAVA voter, the citizen must meet the requirements set forth in the previous question.

OCAVA voters are given special assistance when voting absentee because they have been recognized as a group that traditionally has had a difficult time obtaining, voting and returning ballots by the close of polls on Election Day.

Absentee voters who do not fit the qualifications of a UOCAVA voter should refer to their state’s or territory’s election site for information on how they can register and vote absentee in their state or territory. State-by-state instructions can be found on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov.

Where is my legal voting residence?

For voting purposes, a legal voting residence can be the state or territory where a person last resided prior to entering military service or the state or territory claimed as a legal address after joining the military.

Even though there might not be any formal ties to that residence, the address determines the proper district, ward, precinct or parish for voting purposes. To claim a new legal residence, a service member must have simultaneous physical presence and the intent to return to that location after military service.

Military members and their family members may change their legal residence every time they change permanent duty stations, or they may retain their legal residence without change. This may mean the family’s uniformed service member has a different legal voting residence than the family members.

A Judge Advocate General officer or legal counsel should be consulted before legal residence is changed, because there are usually other factors that should be considered besides voting.

Can I vote in person where I am stationed?

Military members may vote in the U.S. state or territory where stationed if they change their legal residence to that state or territory, even if they live on a military installation. There are legal obligations that may be incurred, such as taxation, if a military member decides to change the state of their state residency. Therefore, consult a JAG officer or legal counsel before making such a decision.

Currently, there are no provisions for personnel stationed outside the United States to vote, in person, where stationed.

My family member(s) are not in the military, can they also vote absentee?

UOCAVA entitles eligible family members (U.S. citizens who are 18 or older) of military personnel to vote absentee. Military family members and dependents are considered to be in the same category of absentee voter as military members and generally should follow the same procedures.

Some states allow children of military personnel residing overseas who are U.S. citizens but who have never resided in the U.S. to claim one of their U.S. citizen parent’s legal state or territory of residence as their own.

Registering and requesting an absentee ballot

Do I have to be registered to vote absentee?

Registration requirements vary from state to state. Most states and territories do require registration to vote absentee, but for UOCAVA voters, registration and requests can be done at the same time by submitting a single FPCA. Those who are already permanently registered and only wish to request a ballot may submit an FPCA early in the election year.

How do I register to vote or apply for an absentee ballot?

A UOCAVA citizen may register and request an absentee ballot with a single form: the Federal Post Card Application. The FPCA is accepted by all states and territories and is postage-paid in the U.S. mail, including the Military Postal System and State Department pouch mail.

Hard copies of the FPCA can be obtained from unit Voting Assistance Officers or requested directly from FVAP.

An online version of the FPCA is available at the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site, and is accepted by all states and territories, except American Samoa and Guam. Keep in mind the online FPCA must be mailed in an envelope with proper postage or mailed using the provided prepaid return envelope.

Whichever format of the FPCA is used, it must be completed, printed, signed, dated and mailed directly to a local election official. Some states and territories also require notarization of the FPCA. Notarization requirements and local election official’s mailing addresses can be found within the state by state instructions listed on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov.

If I am required to have my FPCA notarized, how do I do it?

FPCA notarization can be performed by a U.S. commissioned officer, embassy or consular officer or other official authorized to administer oaths. Most states and territories do not require notarization of the FPCA, therefore consult the state-by-state instructions, which can be found on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov.

Where do I send my FPCA?

A completed FPCA should be sent directly to a local election official. Depending on the state or territory, this could be a county or parish clerk, city administrator or borough election official. Consult the by state instructions, which can be found on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov. Once there, check under the heading of “Where to Send It” to find a list of addresses for a state’s or territory’s local election officials.

These officials handle the processing and distribution of absentee ballots and may need additional information or clarification. To facilitate this process, provide a current e-mail address, phone and fax number on the FPCA.

When mailing an FPCA to my state or territory, do I have to pay postage?

When mailed from any U.S. post office, U.S. embassy or consulate or APO/FPO mail facility, the hardcopy FPCA is postage-paid. The online version of the FPCA must be mailed in our postage-paid envelope in order to receive free postage, or it may be sent in an envelope with proper postage affixed. Ensure the proper FPCA is postmarked (see postmarking instructions below) and sent before a state’s or territory’s specific deadline. Postage must be paid if the materials are mailed from a non-U.S. postal facility.

What is a postmark and how do I make sure I get one?

A postmark is a postal marking made on a piece of mail indicating the date and time the item was delivered into the care of the postal service. Most local election officials use postmarks to determine if a mailed FPCA or voted ballot has met state deadlines. These deadlines can be found in the state by state instructions on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov.

Keep in mind because of varying mail pick up times and delays, election mail may not receive a postmark for the day it was placed in the mailbox, but may receive a postmark for the day a postal worker or facility actually receives it. It is better to mail election material as soon as possible to avoid missing deadlines.

When is the best time to apply for an absentee ballot?

At least 45 days before Election Day to allow ample time to process the request and mail the ballot. There is no date that is too early to send in your FPCA, and FVAP recommends submitting an FPCA in January of each year.

However, if applying for both registration and request of an absentee ballot, the FPCA may have to be mailed earlier than 45 days. Most states and territories have specific registration and ballot request deadlines for UOCAVA voters. These can be found in the state by state instructions listed on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense home page at www.fvap.gov.

Must I submit a separate application for each election?

The Help America Vote Act of October 2002 extended the effective period of the FPCA through two regularly scheduled general elections for federal office.

For example, if an FPCA is used to request a ballot for the 2008 General Election, a ballot for the 2010 General Election will also be sent to the same mailing address, unless specified. Depending on the state of residence, ballots may be received for State and local offices during the selected period as well.

However, due to the transient nature of many UOCAVA citizens, FVAP recommends each voter submit an FPCA to the state of legal residence in January of each year and again each time there is a change in the voter’s mailing address.

Casting your vote

If I am required to have my ballot notarized, how do I do it?

Ballot notarization can be performed by a U.S. Commissioned Officer, embassy or consular officer or other official authorized to administer oaths. However, most states and territories do not require notarization of the ballot. To find out more about a state’s or territory’s notary requirements, check the state by state instructions on the Federal Voting Assistance Program U.S. Department of Defense main Web page at www.fvap.gov.

Problems receiving a ballot

What happens if I do not receive a ballot from my local election office?

If an absentee ballot is requested but not received by Election Day, it is possible to still vote.

UOCAVA voters may use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as an emergency ballot when they have not received a ballot from their local election office.

How do I know if I am eligible to use the FWAB?

In order to be eligible to use the FWAB, absentee uniformed service members and their family members must:

Where can I get a FWAB?

Hardcopies of the FWAB are available through voting assistance officers at military installations or at U.S. embassies/consulates. Additionally, an online version of the FWAB (OFWAB) is available on the FVAP Web site. The online version must be completed, printed, signed, dated and mailed to a local election official in an inner FWAB Security Envelope, along with an outer envelope with proper postage or with the prepaid return envelope. Refer to the state by state instructions located at www.fvap.gov to determine a state’s or territory’s witness or notary requirements for voted ballots, as well as its deadline for counting and mailing addresses.

Other election information

In which elections may I vote?

All members of the uniformed services and their family members who are U.S. citizens and are 18 or older may vote absentee in federal, state and local elections.

What is an election for federal office?

An election for federal office is any general, special, off or primary election solely or in part for the purpose of selecting, nominating or electing any candidate for the office of president, vice president, presidential elector, member of the Senate, member of the House of Representatives, delegates from the District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and American Samoa and resident commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Where would I obtain information on issues, positions and candidates?

Candidate’s information can usually be found in U.S. news magazines and newspapers, on the Internet and hometown newspapers. Also, try contacting friends and relatives for information on state and local issues.

Armed Forces Radio and Television Service also broadcasts American news and entertainment programs throughout the world.

Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad maintain overseas offices and have information about the candidates and issues at  www.democratsabroad.org and www.republicansabroad.org.

United States election overview

What is a political party?

It is an organized group of people with similar views seeking to elect candidates to public office to exercise political power and influence the course of public policy.

What is a primary election?

It is an election in which registered voters select a political party’s candidates for office. The party’s winning candidates for each office go on to face members of other political parties in a subsequent, general election.

There are two types of primaries: open and closed.

An open primary is a primary in which any registered voter can participate regardless of political affiliation but can only vote for candidates of one party.

A closed primary is one in which only voters registered for a particular political party can participate.

What is a presidential primary?

A primary is used to pick delegates to the presidential nominating conventions of the major parties and is one of the first steps in the process whereby political parties choose a candidate to run for U.S. president.

Why is it important to vote in primary elections?

It is important because voters who participate in the primaries can have a great impact on what names will appear on the general election ballot. The winning candidate in a primary election is the one who receives the largest percentage of the votes during the primary election and will move on to be a candidate in the general election.

The largest percentage should not be confused with a majority, which is a number greater than half of the total votes cast. This means the higher the voter turnout, the greater the possibility the winner is a true representative of the population in general.

What is a caucus?

A caucus is a meeting by members of a political party to elect delegates to conventions, express preferences for candidates, discuss issues and address party business.

What is a general election?

It is a regularly scheduled local, state or national election in which voters elect officeholders.

What is the Electoral College?

It is a body of electors chosen by the voters in each state to elect the president and vice president of the U.S. The number of electors in each state is equal to its number of representatives in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

What is a congressional district?

It is a political subdivision within a state from which a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is elected. Each congressional district contains about 650,000 people.

The sizes of the congressional districts are normally adjusted every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

Ten things to do to make sure your absentee vote is counted:

1. Start by contacting your Voting Assistance Officer for help in absentee registration and voting.

2. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Web site at www.fvap.gov for information on the absentee registration and voting process.

3. Ensure you have applied for your absentee ballot using the hard copy or on-line versions of the Federal Post Card Application Form (SF-76), Registration and Absentee Ballot Request Form.

4. Make sure your local election official has your current mailing address.

5. Sign and date all election materials.

6. Fulfill your state’s witness/notary requirements (if required).

7. Ensure your ballot or FPCA is postmarked.

8. Register to vote and request your ballot in a timely manner – no later than September.

9. Vote by mailing your ballot no later than Oct. 15 of the election year.

10. Use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot if you are overseas and your state absentee ballot does not arrive in time to be mailed back by the state’s deadline.

For more information or for help with specific state by state instructions, see your unit voting assistance officer.