Time is running out to make your vote count to help decide who leads our country into the future.
The 2004 November general election is just around the corner, and U.S. service members deployed overseas are encouraged to exercise their right to vote through absentee balloting, which is part of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
Absentee ballots should be mailed no later than Oct. 15. In order to get an absentee ballot, troops can use the Federal Post Card Application, or send a written request for a ballot to the county, city, town or parish clerk.
If the absentee ballot is not received in time to meet the Oct. 15 deadline, troops can also use a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot if they meet the three criteria. First, the individual must be located overseas, second he must have applied for a regular ballot early enough that the request is received by the local election official at least 30 days before the election and finally, he must not have received the requested regular absentee ballot.
The deadline for submitting the FPCA varies from state to state, but registered voters are urged to submit it at least 30 days before the election.
Some states accept the on-line form of the FPCA, said 1st Lt. Phan Ton, Voting Assistance Officer for the 555th Engineer Company deployed to Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas. She said troops should visit their voting assistance officer for additional information about the requirements for their state.
Service members are encouraged to exercise their right to vote, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld designated the week of Sept. 3-11, as Armed Forces Voter Week to stress the importance of troops input.
Deployed troops are advised to research the issues and candidates they are voting for, and can gain more information through newspapers, magazines, various Web sites, and a hotline, Ton explained. Troops can call 1-800-438-VOTE and listen to recorded messages from candidates and information on the various ballot issues.
Many Camp Victory South service members in Iraq understand the significance of each vote, and decided to voice their opinion this year even though they hadnt previously.
While I didnt vote the last election, I plan to vote this year, said Spc. Amanda Webb, of Crawfordsville, Ind., a mail clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, III Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas. Ive had time to focus on what kind of country I was living in and how it was being run. I believe everyone in our country has the right to vote to make a choice to implement changes, and thats the only way this country will get any better.
With the improvement in pushing for 100-percent contact of Soldiers to get a FPCA and a stronger, more prevalent VAO program, and a change in the military postal system, I feel that Soldiers are more confident that their vote will count for this years election, Ton said.
Ton also explained that from Soldiers she has encountered, most are interested in being involved in their military future, as well as their future as a U.S. citizen, and they are encouraging one another to vote.
For more information about voting in the upcoming election, visit www.fvap.com, or contact your units voting assistance officer.