SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
It's a year until the midterm elections, but primaries for state elections are just months away.
While more people vote in presidential elections than midterm elections, Americans have the chance to vote Nov. 4, 2014, to determine more than half of the governorships, a third of the U.S. Senate, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and virtually all members of the 50 state's 99 legislative bodies.
But you can't vote unless you're registered.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program exists to help Americans - particularly service members, civilians and dependents stationed overseas - register and vote in upcoming elections.
The filling-out process can take between five and 20 minutes, but the benefits of completing it and voting could have long-lasting effects for our country and the world.
"Voting is not only a right - it's an honor defended by generations of service men and women, in which many paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander. "Although we may be serving overseas as Europe's Sentry and Avenger, that distance from America does not diminish the impact of what we do here as Airmen toward defending that right nor does it distract from our obligation as Americans to participate in our democracy. I encourage all Saber Airmen to register, learn about the issues and exercise their right to vote."
TWENTY STEPS TO REGISTER TO VOTE
: Log on to www.fvap.gov
On the homepage, you will have the option to select between being an active-duty military or an overseas U.S. citizen. Select the one that applies for you.
You will then see a map of the United States and its territories. Select your state of residency (i.e. it is often the state where you file your tax return or address before you joined the military.)
: On the new screen, click the "Get Started" button under "Register to Vote and/or Request a Ballot."
On this screen, you can select the "Get Started" button for either your respective state's online assistant (if applicable) or FVAP's online assistant. For the purpose of this checklist, please select FVAP's.
: You will then see a Privacy Act Statement screen indicating that "no personal information will be archived at any point using this automated assistant." (NOTE: For DoD-network computers, you may see a certificate error, blocking the navigation. Click "Continue to this website" to continue with the assistant.) After clicking, you may see a pop-up reminding you to download and print your forms and that you must have Adobe Reader version 6.0 or higher on your computer. If you do and have printer access, click "Continue."
On the new page called "Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) for Absentee Ballot," you will be shown the steps to complete the form on the left side of the screen. The process will begin with "Jurisdiction," where you will be prompted to select your county of residence from a drop box. Once selected, press "Continue."
: You will then be asked to determine your absentee ballot eligibility based on your current voting status, i.e. "member of the uniformed services," "spouse or dependent" or "U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S." Select the one that applies to you and then hit "Continue."
Next, you will be shown whether your state has any state-specific election dates at this time. If none or posted, you may also access your state's election website for more information. Please select "Continue."
: The "My Information" page is where you can fill-in your name, gender, date of birth and contact information overseas. Depending on your state's rules, you may also enter your political party affiliation. Should you select a party, you may only be able to vote in that's party's specific primarires, depending upon your state's rules. After this, you will be asked to enter your personal identification, be it your driver's license, state ID or Social Security number. Once completed, select "Continue."
: The "Voting Residence" page will ask for your street address back in your state of residence. Once completed, select "Continue."
: On the "Mailing Address" page, you will be asked to list your current overseas mailing address to receive your voter registration card and future ballots. You can also list another address to receive voting materials or if you will be mailing them from a non-U.S. or FPO/APO foreign address. Once completed, select "Continue."
On the "Method to Receive Ballot" screen, you can list your preference for how you will receive your ballot either by email/online or by mail. You will also be shown a reminder strongly encouraging you to provide contact information via telephone, fax or email in case your county has a question about your application. Below this, you will be asked whether your prefer a state write-in ballot and to type the reason why you will request one, i.e. preference or physical disability. Once completed, select "Continue."
: On the "Additional Information" page, you will be asked to designate the period for which you'd like to receive ballots, i.e. all elections, only federal election or the next election for which you are eligible to vote. Once completed, select "Continue."
You will then be shown all your selections under the "Review" page. Check to ensure your information is correct. You can select "edit" next to each section to make a revision. Once completed, select "Continue."
On the "Print and Finish" page, you will be shown how to get your completed application as well as an option to print a postage-paid envelope for your county's voting office. First, select "Download PDF Package." You will then see a pop-up asking to download your file. Select either "open" or "save" to view your application.
: You will be shown your completed application as a PDF in a new window. You may also see a yellow bar above your document stating it's a "Protected View." Select the "Enable All Features" on the right side of the bar in order to print. Once completed, press the "Print" button on your screen to print out the application.
Once you've received your printed application, you may see four pages. The first two pages are instructions on sending your form back to your state of residence; the third page will be a cover sheet; and the fourth page will be your actual application. After reviewing your application, sign and date the bottom of the form.
: In most cases, you will have three options to sending your application to your state:
Step #20: That's it!
- MAIL: On the "Print and Finish" page (Step #16,) you have the option to printing a postage-paid format onto a 9 ½" by 4 1/8" envelope. Ensure your printer has the capabilities and supply to print this form onto an actual envelope. NOTE: "The postal service equipment will destroy envelopes with taped or stapled postage-paid envelopes." If you cannot print this envelope, you can mail your application on a regular envelope with a postage stamp to the address printed on your printed voted instructions.
- FAX: You may fax both your cover sheet (page 3) and application (page 4) to the fax number listed on your printed voting instructions. As a courtesy, please write the number of pages (including the cover sheet) on the bottom line of your FVAP cover sheet. Using the
- EMAIL: Some states may allow this option to receive your application. You must first scan both the cover sheet and signed application. After saving the scanned images as a single PDF file, email the attachment to the email address provided in your instructions. Additionally, you must also mail the original signed document to your county's voting address.
Unless your county office contacts you for further information, you may receive your voter registration card in the mail within a month. For elections, you may receive your ballot in the mail at least 30 days before an election, be it a primary, general or special. If you still have not received your ballot within that timeframe, you may use FVAP's website to complete a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.
Saber Airmen who use the 09123 ZIP code have until Oct. 27, 2014 are recommended to submit their ballot by mail by no later than Oct. 27, 2014.
For more information, visit www.fvap.gov