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Published on March 8th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Every vote counts: Let your voice be heard!

By Sgt. 1st Class Luke Graziani; USARCENT Public Affairs

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – Military personnel come from all over the United States. Figuring out how, when, and where to cast your vote for this year’s presidential ballot can be confusing, if you’re unsure of the process.

Help is available at www.fvap.gov. Your U.S. Army Central voting assistance officer can also help guide you through the steps of getting your vote cast for the next president. “The goal of the USARCENT Voting Assistance Program is to provide guidance, assistance and materials to all assigned military, civilian and family members to ensure those eligible get an opportunity to vote,” said Ivory Wilson, USARCENT policy and programs human resources specialist.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program works to ensure Soldiers, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world.

“The goal of the program is to reach every Soldier who is eligible to vote and provide them and their family with voting information,” said Capt. Cayatra Miller, USARCENT human resources policy and programs manager.

Miller said the USARCENT voting assistance program also provides voting information to deployed Soldiers to ensure they are afforded the same opportunity to vote as Soldiers who are stateside.

The director of FVAP administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act on behalf of the secretary of defense. UOCAVA, as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, requires states to transmit requested absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters no later than 45 days before a federal election.

All votes count. A servicemember, regardless of where they are physically located, will always have the tools available to submit their vote. All those eligible to qualify for an absentee ballot include: members of the uniformed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps), members of the Merchant Marines, eligible family members of the above, and U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S.

FVAP assists voters through partnerships with the military services, Department of State, Department of Justice, and election officials from 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Elections are managed individually by 50 states, U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the District of Columbia. This equates to 55 sets of rules for absentee voting by UOCAVA citizens, but the basic steps are simple: Citizens register to vote and request an absentee ballot by filling out the Federal Post Card Application, and mailing it to their local election official in their state of legal residence.

The election official approves the FPCA, disapproves the FPCA or requests additional clarifying information.

Once the FPCA is approved, the election official sends an absentee ballot to the citizen.

The citizen completes and returns their voted ballot to their local election official by their state’s deadline.

Time is running out. Check the upcoming schedule at www.fvap.gov/vao/vag/upcoming-events to ensure that you don’t miss your chance to let your voice be heard.

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