By Marguerite Cleveland
With the November, 2018 Election coming up it is nonstop coverage on local, national news and social media. Typically turnout for midterm elections is less than in a Presidential election year but 2018 could see record voting. There seems to be a lot more energy about voting this year. If you procrastinated, can you still vote absentee in the mid-term elections? The answer is maybe and is state specific. Here are a few tips and things you need to know to navigate the process.
- Call or go into the Voting Assistance Office at the installation you are stationed at. They are very helpful and provide the following services: information on voter registration and the absentee ballot procedures, material on the voting process, how to request an absentee ballot and mailing the completed forms. Assistance is available to all uniformed service members and their eligible family members and some eligible civilians.
- Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program at www.FVAP.gov. Click on the tab for military voters. Then click on Voter Registration and Ballots. This will give you a map of the United States. Click on your state to find out the dates to request and mail in a ballot.
- Will my absentee ballot be counted? According to www.Vote.org, “Yes, all votes are counted, whether they’re cast in-person or by absentee ballot. It is a common misconception that absentee ballots are only counted during very tight races. This misconception stems from two things: one, absentee ballots are often counted for days after the election since many are coming from abroad; two, absentee ballots are often a small percentage of all voted ballots. Many elections have a clear winner, so the absentee ballots that are still being counted after election night don’t affect the results as predicted right after the polls close. As absentee voting becomes more popular, however, an increasing number of elections are decided by absentee ballots.
- Your home of record is where you came into the service. Your voting residence is the state on your LES for tax purposes. These may or may not be the same. When registering to vote; register for the state on your LES. Do not register to vote in the state you are stationed at! Registering to vote is one step to making that state your residence and if you are in a state that has state income tax it could have a big financial impact. Also be aware that your spouse does not automatically share the same voting residence. Refer to your Voting Assistance Office for help if you aren’t sure.
In the future, plan ahead so that you can vote in your state’s elections. When you PCS, make sure you update your address with your state. If you need to register to vote make sure you do so by the beginning of October which is the cutoff for some states. Your vote does count so make sure your voice is heard no matter where you currently live.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com