3 easy steps to getting counted
The clock is ticking, the buzzer sounds, and another wanna-be voter hits the snooze button for the third time — which means it’s late.
Several deadlines for registering to vote for this year’s presidential election have already passed. And it’s late ... but it’s not too late.
There is still time to make an overseas vote count.
But casting a ballot without having registered to vote would be similar to fishing without a hook: The vote won’t count unless you have registered with your home of record’s county, said Maj. Brett L. Lindsey, U.S. Army Europe’s voting action officer.
Registering to vote is a fairly simple process, he said.
Wanna-be voters should go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site at: www.fvap.gov to find out what county your residence is in. Or local voting assistance officers can help.
Voters should look up their state and county to find out the easiest way to register. Different states have different guidelines and time limits. Some let people register via fax, while others prefer mail-in federal postcard applications. Some allow e-mails.
These applications are available on the Web site under the “I Want To Vote” link. There is even a guide online to help fill out the form. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.
Second, would-be voters need to send in the form the fastest way possible, whether that’s express mail or by fax, Lindsey said. Specific state application instructions will offer different ways to send in the postcard.
Once overseas voters have registered, all they can do is wait for their county to send back confirmation of registration as well as a state or territorial ballot.
This leads to the final and third step of the voting process. Either send back the ballot or, if it did not come in on time, complete the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot should only be used as a back-up ballot, Lindsey said. Only registered voters can use this once their state ballot fails to show up on time.
Services report that 100 percent of military members were reached during Armed Forces Voters Week, which ended Sept. 11.
At RAF Mildenhall, England, voter registration officers “came around repeatedly,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher Edmonson, 22, who is already registered to vote.
To Edmonson, voting is something everyone should do.
“I’ve never lived in the States, not one day of my life,” said the military brat who has lived in Okinawa, Japan, Australia and other places.
He said living overseas has given him a unique perspective on how the policies of different presidents affect things. So, he added, he will vote this year.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Lance Blocker, with the 712th Red Horse Flight on Camp Darby, said he registered in Italy.
“The unit is heavily encouraging us,” he said, “made us well knowledgeable on who to contact and what to do.”
Voting assistance officers are now making last-ditch efforts to make all votes count.
The next date voters should be thinking about is Oct. 15, according to voting assistance officers.
“This is the date everybody should have their ballot in hand and ready to put in the mail for that day,” said Lt.(j.g.) Rob Dafoe, the U.S. Naval Forces Europe, voting action officer.
Services will continue assisting voters up until Election Day and continue trying to get late votes out, so never give up trying, Dafoe said.
For instance, Absentee Voting Week, from Oct. 11-15, will guide registered voters who have not received the regular state absentee ballot on how to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
—Reporters Kent Harris and Ron Jensen contributed to this report.