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Military voting focus of new law, automation

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Absentee Voters Week began Sept. 27 and runs through Oct. 4. Those who live away from their states of record can register to vote in various ways.
Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE ACT):
The "45 day prior to a general election" mark was Sept. 18. Starting with the Nov. 2 general elections, states must send ballots to military voters 45 days before the election, both by traditional mail and at least one means of electronic transmission such as email, fax or online ballot posting. Some states have even adopted full internet voting for military and overseas civilian voters. Your Installation Voting Assistance Officer (IVAO) and Unit Voting Assistance Officer (UVAO) are here to help with an array of voter assistance tools.

Voters Week events:
Absentee Voters Week is the second of two (non-sequential) weeks set aside by the Department of Defense for us to recognize the military's focus on preserving our right to vote and encouraging absentee voters to do so. The first week, "Armed Forces Voters Week" was held on June 28-July 7 and focused on providing voter registration and absentee ballot requests to our military members and their families who are stationed away from their state of legal residence. During that week, IVAOs and UVAOs publicized and set up booths around base allowing them to stress the importance of early action and planning well in advance of election deadlines by the absentee voter in order to obtain a ballot for the general election coming up on Nov. 2.

Absentee Voters Week, set for Sept. 27-Oct. 4, has a dual focus. We will work once again to encourage absentee voters to register and request absentee ballots if they have not yet done so; and we encourage those who already have registered, and received their ballots, to complete their absentee ballots and return them to their local election officials. If voters have previously sent in their Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) requesting registration and an absentee ballot, but have not yet received their ballot, we offer help in filling out and sending in the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to serve as a backup in case the regular absentee ballot doesn't reach the voter in time to fill in and return to their local election officials to be counted in the November election. If voters have not taken any steps toward registering and casting their votes, then we are encouraging them to simultaneously fill in and send in both, the FPCA and the FWAB.

The Department of Defense has taken steps to make absentee voting easier for our military members, their families, and overseas voters (Federal employees working overseas). What used to be a complicated process of having to check the voting assistance guide for state-specific requirements and deadlines for absentee voting has now been automated. Voters can click on this link https://www.fvap.gov/r3/fpca/home to fill in the FPCA using a wizard that assists the absentee voter in filling in the form based on their particular state or county of residence.

If voters do not receive their ballot by Oct. 2, they should use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as a back-up ballot! Similar to the FPCA Wizard, voters can click on this link https://www.fvap.gov/r3/fwab/home to fill in the FWAB using a wizard that assists the absentee voter in filling in the form, again, based on their particular state and county of residence.

For each office for which they vote, voters write in either a candidate's name or their party designation. (Check the State election Website for candidate information, which generally is available 45 days before the election--Federal Candidate choices will already be included on the automated FWAB form; e.g., Senator and Congressional House Representative).

Once completed, the voter then prints out the form, signs and returns it to their local election official. The wizards produce a PDF package that includes their postage-paid envelope template, security envelope template, instructions to election officials, state-specific information and submission instructions, voter's declaration/affirmation, and write-in ballot pre-populated with the information and candidates the voter entered in the FWAB Wizard. If the State allows faxed returns, the wizard will even prepare a fax cover sheet with the fax number to the local election official!

If voters receive their State ballot after submitting the FWAB, they should vote and return the State ballot as well. The State will only count the FWAB if the State ballot is not received by the deadline.

More information and assistance can be obtained from Unit Voting Assistance Officers or from your Installation Voting Assistance Officer at vote@buckley.af.mil.
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