Special Ballot Urged for Absentees

Army Times

September 26, 2008 – Military voting officials recommend that if soldiers have not received an absentee ballot from their state by Sept. 30, they should complete and mail a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot as soon as possible.

Free Express Mail service will be offered by military post offices worldwide during the seven-day run-up to the election – Oct. 29 through Nov. 4.

The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot allows voters who requested a ballot by their state deadline, but have not received it, to vote in the Nov. 4 election.

Rules governing the use of the FWAB vary among the states, and officials recommend that soldiers contact their unit voting assistance officer, or access the Federal Voting Assistant Program Web site (www.fvap.gov) for state-by-state details.

The Web site also includes an automated tool that allows service members to register and request a ballot through a secure server.

Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army adjutant general and director of the Military Postal Service Agency, said the FWAB and online Web site is especially helpful for service members from states and territories that held, or will hold, late primaries.

States and territories with late primaries are Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Because the Military Postal Service Agency plays a critical role in the absentee voting process, Jones and his staff face a continuous challenge in keeping service members and families apprised of voting regulations for each of the states and territories.

“It would be so much easier if we could tell soldiers that there was one common system for voting,” Jones said, “and if they wanted to they would vote electronically.”

“It would be a huge improvement for the military voting process if service members routinely could get their ballots online,” Jones said.

“Even if soldiers would have to send the ballots back by regular mail, such a change would shorten the voting process by up to 30 days.”

Jones said that for the upcoming election more than 700 military postal operators have been trained in handling voting materials

About 5,700 people – typically junior officers and senior NCOs – have been trained as unit voting assistance officers.

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