August 6, 2014, WASHINGTON (NNS) – The Defense Department’s top voting official provided absentee voting tips Aug. 5 and re-emphasized the importance of registering, requesting ballots and voting early in the process.
“The most important thing to remember when dealing with absentee voting is to start the process early,” Matt Boehmer, director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program said in an interview with DoD News.
“You can use the federal postcard application, or FPCA, to both register to vote and to request your absentee ballot,” Boehmer said. “And you can use our online assistant tools that walk you through the process.”
Boehmer discussed why it is important to notify election officials of where to send ballots and how to do so.
“You actually have to tell them,” he said. “Your address isn’t updated when you move, so we strongly suggest that you fill out a new federal postcard application when you move.”
There are also a few things to keep in mind when dealing with the absentee voting process.
“Don’t use the federal postcard application if you plan on voting in person at the polls. Instead, use your state form. Also, don’t forget to check your inbox for your ballot if you’ve requested to receive it by e-mail.”
Also, “don’t forget to send in your ballot as soon as possible,” Boehmer said. “When you get your ballot, vote it, sign it and send it.”
In the event that a service member or family member doesn’t receive their ballot in time, Boehmer said a backup ballot can be used.
“If, by the first of October, you haven’t seen your state ballot, use our backup ballot, and you can get that at www.fvap.gov.
“If the state ballot comes in after you have sent in your backup ballot, simply fill out the state ballot,” Boehmer continued, “[and] send it in, but don’t worry your vote will only count once.”
There is also help available for those wishing to vote who may feel overwhelmed by the process.
“That’s why FVAP is here,” Boehmer said. “We know that the process of absentee voting can seem overwhelming, but the tools that we have available at www.fvap.gov help make the process easier.”
Other options for assistance include contacting a voting assistance officer, calling 1-800-438-VOTE or sending an e-mail with any questions to [email protected].
Boehmer also shared how service members can help raise awareness about the FVAP.
“Simply spreading the word is the best way that service members can help. You can find us on Facebook [and] on Twitter. Also, sharing information with your unit and family members is a great way to help out.”
FVAP is here to help throughout the 2014 election cycle, Boehmer said.
“For those service members and their families who want to vote, we want to make sure that they can vote and know how to do it.”