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Vote! Deadlines loom for absentee voter registration

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Published: January 28, 2016

FORT RUCKER, ALA. (Jan. 28, 2016) -- State and presidential primary absentee voting registration deadlines draw near and voters are urged to register soon to ensure ballot delivery.

According to Keith Wilbur, Fort Rucker voting assistance officer, South Carolina is the only state whose presidential primary registration has passed, but other deadlines are quickly approaching.

“Arkansas’ deadline is Jan. 31,” he said. “Other states with fast deadlines are Georgia on Feb. 1, Louisiana on Feb. 2 and Oklahoma on Feb. 5.  There are several other states that have deadlines in February and beyond for both presidential and state primaries.  Interested voters may find that information on fvap.gov. There is still time to register and vote in a number of states’ primaries that have later requirements.”

State-by-state registration deadlines are available at FVAP.gov.

“FVAP.gov is a very useful tool for anyone to use to for absentee voter registration,” Wilbur said. “To register or request an absentee ballot, use the Federal Post Card Application at FVAP.gov.  To get your ballot sooner, many states allow you to submit the FPCA by email or fax.  The instruction in your application package will tell you how you may submit the form.  The length of time an FPCA is valid varies by state.  FVAP recommends service members and their voting-eligible dependents complete a new FPCA each January or at least 90 days before the specific election in which they want to vote.  Check the FVAP website or contact your local Installation Voting Assistance Officer for details.

“Everyone who wants to participate in the election should register and register early,” he added. “Speed is of the essence with time- and date-sensitive materials.  Do your homework beforehand and when you receive your absentee ballot fill it out completely and send it back almost immediately to allow it time to reach your election officials in time to be counted.”

Although time is of the essence, Wilbur said voters need not fret if they miss the opportunity to vote in their state’s primaries.

“Individuals do not need to participate in the primaries to vote in the general election in November,” he said. “Soldiers can check with their unit voting assistance officers or their (IVAO) for voting information and important deadlines.  For the general election on Nov. 8, voters must register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application by Aug. 1st.  This should ensure they receive their absentee ballot by Oct. 8.   Voters should complete and return absentee ballots by Nov. 1 if residing within the continental U.S. or by Oct. 15 if residing outside of the U.S.”

Absentee voting may seem complicated for first-time voters, but Wilbur said to simply remember speed is the key and to contact their IVAO with any questions along the way.

“A significant barrier to successful absentee voting is the late receipt of blank ballots reaching Soldiers without sufficient time to vote and return absentee by mail,” he said. “Soldiers need to know that once they get the absentee ballot, speed is of the essence. Soldiers need to research topics and candidates beforehand to ensure that once they get the absentee ballot it is merely a matter of completing it, and returning it in the mail or electronically if allowed by the state. This should be done quickly, so that it arrives in time to meet the cutoff date assigned by the state.”

For more information, call 255-1839 or visit the Fort Rucker voting assistance office located at the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700, Rm. 280.

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