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Voting Assistance Program helps overseas voters

By Airman 1st Class Valerie Monroy | JBER Public Affairs | June 28, 2016

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —

Voting in the United States is conducted by state governments who have various rules and regulations. As a military member, voting can get more difficult because of extended or overseas absences that may prevent service members from using normal state voting rules.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, requires that states and territories allow certain groups to register and vote absentee in federal elections.

“The Federal Voting Assistance program essentially came from the UOCAVA and ensures that overseas citizens and uniformed services have the opportunity to vote,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Kelly Lefler, unit voting assistance officer with the 673d Force Support Squadron. “As citizens of the United States, it’s our right to vote.”

As a unit voting assistant officer, Lefler helps unit members with answering questions regarding how to vote and what forms to fill out.

“Things can get confusing for people in overseas locations,” Lefler said. “I’m here to be a gateway of information and a resource that’s here to help.”

The first step in voting is determining the state of residency. For voting purposes, the legal voting residence can be the state or territory where the individual last resided prior to being overseas, or the state or territory the individual has since claimed as the legal residence.

In order to vote absentee, a Federal Post Card Application form must first be completed and mailed.

“The FPCA is basically telling your state that you will be voting absentee, and then they send you a ballot,” Lefler said. “The second form available is the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, which is a kind of emergency ballot. If you’ve sent your FPCA but haven’t received your ballot, and it’s getting close to election, the FWAB is an option.”

The FWAB allows you to write in your vote, but is not as specific as the FPCA.

For the most up-to-date information on voting absentee or to fill out the forms online, you can visit www.fvap.gov .

For help with filling out state-specific forms and questions, speak with your unit voting assistant officer.