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Voter Registration for service members doesn’t have to be difficult

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Despite many myths and common misconceptions, voting in general elections and primaries is not a difficult task with a little planning and some help.

The base voting office, located in the offices of the Peterson Air and Space Museum, exists to help Airmen register to vote in their home states and request absentee ballots to be sure they participate in the voting process. 

The Federal Voting Assistance Program is designed to ensure service members, eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to do so wherever they are located, said Gail Whalen, installation voting assistance officer.

"The FVAP is set up for the whole DoD, military, civilian in the U.S. and abroad," Whalen said. "The whole purpose is to allow people to vote as an absentee in their home state."

Whalen said the program's website, www.fvap.gov, is a great resource and serves as a one stop shop for voting assistance. The site provides all the information and direction needed to vote, she said. The program provides all DoD personnel two basic forms. One is for registering and requesting an absentee ballot for the individual's home state. Changes to information can also be made with this form. The other form is for those who for some reason did not receive a ballot. It serves as a backup ballot, allowing for absentee voting if no ballot was received.

"It is specially designed as a failsafe for Department of Defense personnel," Whalen said.

One of the most widely held misconceptions that Whalen notices is people thinking if they are not present in their home state they cannot vote.

"I don't know why they think that, it's just not true," she said. "You don't have to register in your new state, you can do an absentee (ballot)."

Another misconception Whalen comes across regularly is that service members can only vote in general elections. In fact, service members can vote in their home state's primary elections, but need to make sure to register in time.

Deployed personnel can vote as absentees too. Whalen said she attends every readiness briefing and provides instructions on how to be prepared to vote, including changing addresses. FVAP.gov points out that deployed service members who do not receive a ballot from their state in time to send it in, can use the Federal Write-In Absentee ballot found on the website. The form needs to be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the elections.

Airmen are provided voting information in many ways. Unit voting officers are prompted to mention things like approaching deadlines. Someone from the Peterson voting office attends readiness and right start briefings to share information as well.

"We give them a lot of opportunities, but it's up to them to follow up," said Whalen. "Don't wait until the last minute or you won't be able to vote. Register early fill out the forms and get them turned in."

For more information contact the Team Pete Voting Office (719) 556-5543/2314 or by email at vote@peterson.af.mil.

On the web:
http://www.peterson.af.mil/voting/index.asp (on the Peterson AFB web site under featured links)

https://www.fvap.gov/

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