How To Register To Vote And/or Absentee Vote:
Federal Post Card Application To register to vote and/or absentee vote complete the FPCA form. You can go the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and use their friendly wizard to guide you through the process. This site assists active-duty service members, Public Health Service, NOAA, Merchant Marines and their family members. It will also guide U.S. citizens who are living outside the United States for school, work or any other reason.
Where Can I Go For Help
You can get assistance online or face-to-face:
- Get to know your voting assistance officer. The voting assistance officer at your installation is responsible for assisting you with the absentee voting process, including providing the necessary forms for you to register to vote. If youre new to installation living, you can look up their contact information or ask your sponsor for help.
- Become familiar with all the resources available through the Federal Voting Assistance Program.FVAP works to ensure that service members and their eligible family members are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources they need to successfully do so from anywhere in the world. The FVAP website includes helpful fact sheets addressing your FPCA and your absentee ballot. It also includes service-specific information, details for spouses and eligible family members, applications and contact information. You can also call 800-438-VOTE or email them at .
Your vote matters and, no matter where you are, you have the right to cast your ballot in every election. Learn more about primary elections, keep track of your states primary election dates and take these simple steps to ensure your voice is heard on Election Day.
Things To Remember About Voting Absentee Or Early Voting
Voters are not allowed to have more than one legal voting address or residence on file at any one time. Your voting residence is NOT your home of record. You should declare your voting residence as the same address that is listed on your Leave & Earnings Statementyour home of record is where you technically entered military service from , but your voting address is your CURRENT legal address.
There are no automatic updateslike DEERS, you will have to manually correct your voting residence/state of residence when you move. You may or may not be able to change your voting residence remotely depending on circumstances. This is a detail you should definitely explore before you deploy, get reassigned, or PCS to a new duty location.
There are no standardized national laws that address vote-by-mail, voting early, or absentee voting across the board. Individual state laws dictate the procedures, deadlines, and requirements of voting including vote-by-mail, etc. You will need to become familiar with your states requirements before you apply.
U.S. citizens born overseas who have never resided in the U.S. may not be able to vote absentee, according to USA.gov. If you need to know if this applies to you, review the rules of the state where your parent or legal guardian last called home.
If you have become what the government defines as an overseas citizen, your voting residence is the address in the state you last resided in the United States. This is true even when the applicant:
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Does Your Unit Have A Voting Officer
If you are stationed at an overseas base, you will likely be assigned to a unit or command that has at least one Voting Officer or voting representative who assists members of the unitthis is normally an additional duty and not the main work of a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, etc.
Voting officers, sometimes known as Voting Assistance Officers, can provide you and your co-workers with the information you need to vote absentee or vote by mail. The Voting Officer may be someone in your unit or there may be someone among your command support staff who has this additional duty.
If youve never heard of a unit voting officer before, you will learn that this additional duty operates somewhat like the function of a notary public in that they are always ready to help, but such services arent in demand except during certain times.
Ask your command support staff who your current voting officer is and you can get started voting by mail or voting absentee based on the current election years deadlines and related issues.
You can also search for a voting assistance officer using a search tool provided by the federal government.
Voting When Transitioning Out Of The Military
If you are transitioning to civilian life, you should notify your election office of your change in voter registration status and update your information so you can vote locally in the next election. Depending on whether you are staying in the same voting district after military separation, or if you are moving to a new state or county, there are just one or two easy steps to take, which you can find at .
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Presidential Election Voting Deadlines
U.S. General Election Voting Deadlines: While the majority of US Citizens on the US Mainland will vote on November 3rd, absentee ballots need to be sent in earlier in order to be processed and to have your vote count.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program recommends mailing your absentee ballot by the following dates:
Remember, you can send in your vote earlier than these dates. So its best to act immediately if you are serving overseas.
Ballots Cannot Be Forwarded By The Post Office So Update Your Information As Soon As Possible To Ensure That You Do Receive Your Ballot On Time
Finding Out Where to Vote
Once youre registered to vote the next step is to vote! When Election Day rolls around, youll need to go to your designated polling place. These are determined by where you live and are usually in your neighborhood, often at a school or community center. Your local elections department will be able to let you know where your polling place is located. Many state elections websites also have search tools to help you find out where to vote.
You can find a complete list with links on this helpful Cheat Sheet from the Election Assistance Commission.
Voter ID Laws
States vary in the required identifications needed to verify yourself at your polling place. Most often a signature is used to verify identification, including for ballots sent by mail. Of the 36 states that require some sort of identification at the poll, some laws are stricter than others. Valid forms of identification include a drivers license or state ID card, passport, birth certificate, military ID card, current utility bill or bank statement, voter ID card and credit card. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy table with detailed information for every state.
If you do not have the proper identification, most states will allow you to vote a provisional ballot. Each state has their own rules about when a provisional ballot is counted, the same table from NCSL explains when a provisional ballot is cast in each state and how it can be counted.
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For What Contests Am I Eligible To Vote
It depends. Military voters and their spouses and dependents may vote for all federal*, state, and local contests. Some voters who reside outside the U.S. may vote for all federal, state and local offices, while others may only vote for federal contests. You can vote for all federal, state, and local offices if you are a U.S. citizen, reside outside of the U.S., and are a:
- Civilian employee of the U.S. Government serving outside of the United States and its territories or a spouse or dependent of this individual
- Member of the American Red Cross, Society of Friends, or USO serving with the Armed Forces outside of the United States or a spouse or dependent of this individual
If you are a U.S. citizen and reside outside of the U.S., the contests you can vote for depend on whether you plan to return and live in the U.S. in the future.
- If you plan to live in the U.S. â even if you do not know when that might be, you can vote for all federal, state, and local offices. If you are completing a voter registration or absentee form, select âA U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. and I intend to return to the U.S.â
- If you donât plan to live in the U.S. again, you can vote for all federal offices. If you are completing a voter registration or absentee form, select âA U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. and my return to the U.S. is not certain.â
Registering/applying For A Ballot
- To register as a new military voter and/or to request an absentee ballot, you must complete a Federal Post Card Application and return it to your county board of elections in New York.
- This application will register you and will also serve as your absentee ballot application for 2 federal general election cycles.
- Always be sure to share any change of address information with your county board of elections.
- Applications are available from your Voting Assistance Officer on base, or you can visit either the Federal Voting Assistance Program Website for forms and information.
- On this application, you may state a preference as to how you would like to receive your ballot. You can choose mail, fax or email as a preferred method of transmission.
- If you have stated a preference to receive your voting materials by email/online, you will receive an email notification directing you to the States online ballot delivery site, to access your ballot.
- Questions? Call the State Board of Elections at 518-474-1953 or the Federal Voter Assistance Program at 1-800-438-8683, or contact your Voting Assistance Officer or US Embassy office or Consulate.
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How To Handle Voting Issues
If you dont receive your ballot on time and the deadline is approaching, or if you dont know your states deadline:
- Use an emergency backup ballot. If you do not receive your requested state ballot and are in danger of missing the ballot return deadline, your voting assistance officer can help. They can provide you with an emergency or backup ballot called an SF 186 Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, or you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot online assistant to help you fill out the form. All states accept this ballot for federal elections. In most states, voters need to have previously submitted an FPCA earlier in the election year to be eligible to use a FWAB.
- Know your states absentee deadline. Every state sets its own due date for absentee ballot requests and ballot returns, so make sure you know it ahead of time. Learn everything you need to know about your states deadlines by selecting your state from the FVAP.gov homepage. Also, the Military Postal Service Agency estimates mail delivery times from all over the world before each election, which eliminates guesswork. To be on the safe side, follow the recommended mailing dates.
- Submit a new FPCA every year and every time you move. Add this task to your moving checklist so youll be prepared for every election cycle.
Video: Guide For The New Voter
If you’re getting ready to vote for the first time, this short video can help. It goes over the basic requirements for voting in the U.S., and explains why it’s important to know your state’s specific rules for voting.
- Show the Video Transcript
Are you ready to vote for the first time? If youre a U.S. citizen, meet your states requirements, and will be 18 by Election Day, you can vote.
But first, you need to register before your states deadline. Check with your local election office. You can register there or you may be able to register online, at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or using the National Mail Voter Registration Form.
Your election office may send you a voter registration card listing your polling place. On Election Day, thats where youll go. When you get there, you may need to show an ID to vote. Then, fill out your ballot. If you dont know how, ask a poll worker. If you know you wont be able to get there on Election Day, you may qualify to vote by mail.
Remember, voting rules are different in every state. Learn more about voting at USA.gov/voting
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Apply For Your Ballot
You will automatically receive a ballot for any elections you can vote in through December 31 of the year you apply, or through the next election held in November of an even-number year, whichever is later.
Re-apply annually and after a change of mailing address to ensure your information is up-to-date.
Your ballot application also serves as a voter registration application.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program
Online, its possible to get help via the Federal Voting Assistance program, starting with the websites offer to help you register and request an absentee ballot by filling out the Federal Post Card Application .
You must submit this to your local election office by the deadlines listed on the official site. The FVAP program is run by the Federal government and is not a third-party website. No personal data is collected or maintained at this website.
According to the official site, using the Federal Post Card Application ensures that your state will send your ballot to you at least 45 days before the election, and the FVAP official site warns this is a protection not guaranteed when using other forms.
Your family members can also vote absentee using FVAP resources. When you fill out your FPCA, you will be asked to confirm your status as follows:
- Member of the Uniformed Services
- Merchant Marine on active duty
- Spouse or dependent of a member of the Uniformed Services
- Spouse or Dependent of a Merchant Marine on active duty
- S. citizen living outside the country, intending to return
- S. citizen living outside the country, intent to return is uncertain
- S. citizen living outside the country, and has never lived in the United States
Military spouses and dependent children of voting age can vote absentee in any federal election using FVAP resources or other vote-by-mail/absentee voting methods approved for those stationed overseas. Contact information for FVAP includes:
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How To Vote Absentee In The Military
As a Service member, you can vote absentee while living away from your voting residence.
Fill out the Federal Post Card Application and send it to your election office.
Check your voter registration deadline for the next election based on your state. For the General Election, it’s best to send in the FPCA by August 1.
Your voting residence is likely your legal residence. Here’s how to determine your voting residence.
Using the FPCA ensures that your state will send your ballot to you at least 45 days before the election a protection not guaranteed when using other forms. It’s a good idea to send in a new FPCA every January and each time you move.
Our Friends At The American Military Partner Association Is Teaming Up With 1400 Other Organizations Across The Country To Raise Awareness For National Voter Registration Day If You Are Interested In Helping Visit Ampas Website For More Information
Jessica Hall is a freelance communications consultant and author of More Than A Military Spouse. She has a Masters degree in Communication, Digital Media from the University of Washington and a dual B.A. in Journalism and History from New York University. Jessica is an Army spouse and enjoys cooking, exploring whatever duty station shes at and volunteering more than she should. You can connect with her on or .
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Voting By Absentee Ballot
The Federal Post Card Application is the primary form for obtaining an absentee ballot. The FPCA may be obtained from a military member’s Unit Voting Assistance Officer or from the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website or by calling the Secretary of State’s office toll-free at 1-800-274-VOTE .
U.S. citizens residing overseas may also obtain the form from the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s web site or by calling the Secretary of State’s office toll-free at 1-800-274-VOTE .
Electronic Ballot Delivery
Military members and U.S. citizens residing overseas can receive their absentee ballot electronically by properly requesting electronic ballot transmission on the absentee ballot application and providing an email address.
Electronic Ballot Submission
If located outside the territorial limits of the United States, military members and U.S. citizens residing overseas can also return their voted ballots electronically. To qualify for electronic ballot submission, be sure that your absentee ballot application reflects that you reside in a foreign country.
Returning your Absentee Ballot
Regardless of how you receive your absentee ballot, mark your vote and return the ballot without delay. The ballot may be returned by mail or commercial carrier or electronically if you are located in foreign country.
Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot
Your Unit Voting Assistance Officer can assist you with this and other voting procedures or problems.
What Is The Deadline To Register To Vote
For the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election: The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
For the 2022 Gubernatorial General Election: The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, October 18, 2022.
If you are mailing the FPCA, please mail it as soon as possible but no later than the deadline. Your mailing must be postmarked on or before the deadline to be processed.
An FPCA is also considered a request for an absentee ballot. Please submit a new FPCA each time you move to ensure that you will receive your absentee ballot.
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Who Is Eligible To Register To Vote
To register to vote in Maryland, you must be:
- A U.S. Citizen
- At least 16 years old*.
You cannot have been:
- Found by a court to be incapable of voting by reason of mental disability
- Convicted of buying or selling votes
- Convicted of a felony or if you have, you have completed a court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation for the conviction.
* You may register to vote if you are at least 16 years old but cannot vote unless you will be at least 18 years old by the next general election.
Important Information for U.S. residents residing outside of the U.S.: If you reside outside of the U.S., you may vote in Maryland if Maryland was the last place you lived before moving outside the U.S. This is the case even if you moved away many years ago and no longer maintain a residence in Maryland. If you never resided in Maryland, you are not considered a resident of Maryland and cannot vote here.