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Voting Away From Home

If you're deployed or away for training on Election Day, here’s how to vote on an absentee ballot

Each day you serve, you’re helping protect American freedom. And that includes the freedom to vote—including your own vote! If you’re away on Election Day, here are a few tips and considerations from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).

EVERY VOTE MATTERS

Your vote is more important than you realize. All absentee ballots are counted, and in some cases, they can decide the outcome. There have been elections that have been won by a margin of victory of less than 0.1 percent. The 2000 presidential election was ultimately decided by the state of Florida, where the margin of victory was only 537 votes. In 2006, just two votes tipped an election for the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.

UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS

Although every state and territory has its own set of rules on absentee voting, the basics are the same. Service members stationed overseas and away for training qualify to apply, register and vote as an absentee in elections for federal office. Simply submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election official to verify your eligibility and receive your absentee ballot. If you don’t receive the ballot 30 days before the election, submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to ensure you make the deadline. Instructions for both forms are online at FVAP.gov.

LOCATION IS KEY

If you know you’ll be deployed on Election Day, look up FVAP’s table of countries with recommended dates for mailing absentee ballots. If you will be training in another state, simply fill out an FPCA or FWAB. Because your “home of record” is the place you lived when you entered military service, your “voting residence” may not be in the same state. You can verify the status of your voter residency in a state by visiting FVAP.gov/links. Also, be aware that your spouse’s legal residence may be different. The state of legal residence isn’t assumed upon marriage.

While deployed, some Soldiers have submitted absentee ballots that arrived late due to irregular postal timelines overseas. Don’t let this happen to you. Take Murphy out of the equation by getting an early start. Also, if you’re unsure whether you’re registered to vote, contact FVAP directly at 800-438-VOTE or vote@FVAP.gov.

If you’re planning to vote by mail, visit FVAP.gov for overseas dates. Service members can mail their completed ballots free of charge by bringing the ballot to an APO/FPO.