Absentee Voter Tips for Military, Overseas Citizens

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Members of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team pass on the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s message for U.S. military and overseas citizens to submit their absentee ballots in time for the upcoming general election. DoD photo

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Federal Voting Assistance Program News Release

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 26, 2016 - With less than two months until the general election on Nov. 8, absentee voters are beginning to receive their state ballots.

During Absentee Voting Week -- Sept. 26 through Oct. 3 -- the Federal Voting Assistance Program reminds military and overseas citizens to submit their ballot as soon as possible and to follow up to ensure that that their ballot is received by their election office. Here are FVAP’s top reminders for ensuring Americans vote successfully -- wherever they are:

Know that your absentee ballot counts the same as ballots cast at the poll site

All ballots submitted according to state laws are counted in every election. The media often will report the projected outcome of an election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report the preliminary results or say that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the official totals for every election -- and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.

Check your state deadlines, instructions, and options

Each state sets its own deadlines for registering to vote and its options for how absentee ballots are sent to voters. States can also differ in their requirements and deadlines regarding how to complete and submit absentee ballots. Some states require ballots to be postmarked by Election Day while others must receive ballots by Election Day. FVAP.gov has your state’s deadlines and requirements.

Postmark and send your ballot on time

Every election, states receive some absentee ballots past the deadline for acceptance -- but this is easily preventable. Follow your state’s specific deadlines and recommended mailing dates for returning your voted ballot. If you’re a registered military or overseas voter and don’t receive your requested state ballot early enough to submit it on time, you can go to the FVAP website and use the backup ballot called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Voters who end up receiving a state ballot after submitting a FWAB should still complete and return it, as well. States only count your backup ballot if your voted state ballot is not received by the deadline.

Fill out your ballot and election materials correctly

Many states have specific requirements for signing the envelope or an affidavit enclosed with your ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot to ensure it gets counted.

Check that your voted ballot reaches its destination.

If you’re wondering if your vote made it home, check the status of your ballot by selecting your state at the FVAP website and contacting your election office directly.

Military and overseas voters who need to register or request a ballot can do so by filling out a Federal Post Card Application  at the FVAP website -- by hand or using the online assistant -- and sending it to their election office.

For additional information on this election or any upcoming federal election visit the FVAP website, email Vote@FVAP.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).

Federal Voting Assistance Program

The Federal Voting Assistance Program is a Defense Department organization that works to ensure service members, 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.

FVAP assists voters through partnerships with the military services, Department of State, Department of Justice, and election officials from the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. State and local governments administer U.S. elections, including those for federal offices. FVAP supports state and local election officials by providing absentee voting information, materials, training and guidance.

Voters can contact FVAP’s call center at 1-800- 438-VOTE (8683), DSN 425-1584 or at vote@fvap.gov. Toll-free phone numbers from 67 countries are listed at the FVAP website. Find FVAP on Facebook at facebook.com/DoDFVAP and follow @FVAP on Twitter.


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