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We live overseas. My son will be 18 this year, but not until October. I recently heard on the radio that the deadline for voter registration and for requesting an absentee ballot is in October. Is my son eligible to request a ballot before he is 18, so that he can send in his ballot and cast his first vote on Nov. 4?— WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BABY?

OK, I confess this is my own question. The hardest part of that confession is admitting that my first baby will soon be old enough to vote.

One day back in the spring, my son suddenly announced. "Hey, I just realized I’ll be 18 before Election Day. I can vote!"

I looked at him like he had just cut his first tooth and requested a T-bone steak. But all I said — in a choked kind of voice — was "You’re right, honey!"

Now that I’ve overcome denial and moved on to accept that my little boy — who has been taller than me for three years — is about to become an adult, I’ve also found out that yes, indeed, he can vote.

It is just as easy for him as it is for all military and family members living overseas. It was also a good reminder that my husband and I should request our absentee ballots.

At the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site at www.fvap.gov I found the Federal Postcard Application.

On this form, which covers registration and absentee ballots, a potential voter only has to affirm that he or she is eligible to vote or will be by election day.

On the same Web page there is also a link to Chapter 3 of the Voting Assistance Guide.

Happy I didn’t have to read the first two chapters, I clicked on Chapter 3 and found a grid with links for each state and territory. Each link, when opened, shows that state’s deadline information for voter registration, absentee ballot requests and ballot returns.

I looked over all the state and territory sites and found that most of the deadlines for registration and requesting ballots are in October.

Also in the information for each state is a list of local election officials to whom the application must be sent. I scrolled down to find the county of our legal residence and the address of the election official.

Not wanting to take any chances with mail delays, we filled out the forms and put them in the mail.

Another milestone of turning 18 is registration for Selective Service. It’s sobering to consider the responsibilities as well as the privileges of being an American.

Back online, a very short search – about three clicks – turned up the federal Web site for the program:www.sss.gov.

Remember when boys had to go to the Post Office to register? That is still possible, but now there’s an online option with a total of 10 blocks to fill in.

Most men aged 18 to 25 are required to register, but a chart on the site lists the exceptions. My son is not one of them. I checked.

While waiting at our base dental clinic this week, a young man in uniform saw the cross country T-shirt my son was wearing and began asking him enthusiastically about races and times.

When the young man was called to his appointment and walked away, my son commented, "He was probably in high school last year."

They do grow up fast.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and works in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.


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