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ARLINGTON, Va. — If you are registered to vote in California and want to have your say in the recall election, you have time to get your vote in by fax — but you better hustle, and you’ll have to waive your rights to a secret ballot.

On Tuesday, the California Secretary of State’s Office announced that residents outside the United States who are covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act can receive and send their ballot by fax.

But you must already be a legally registered California voter, because that registration process takes 15 days, and the election is now less than two weeks away, said Scott Weidmann, deputy director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Also note that you must send your request for a fax ballot no later than Tuesday — seven days before the election.

Here’s how to cast a vote by fax:

Step 1: Contact your unit’s Voting Assistance Officer — every unit and installation has one — and ask if he or she has a “Federal Post Card Application.”

Step 2: If you can’t find the right person, or he is out of post cards, you will need an Internet connection and a printer. Go to www.fvap.gov/vag/pdfvag/ca.pdf, and print out the card. The site also can answer many of your questions, or you can e-mail them to vote@fvap.ncr.gov , or call DSN 425-1343, which is a U.S. number.

Step 3: Fill out the form and sign it, or the request won’t be legal. Also, put down your entire return fax number, whether it’s commercial or DSN, including any country codes necessary when dialing from the United States.

Step 4: Fax your request to one of the FVAP’s toll-free Electronic Transmission Service numbers. You can find them on the Web site. The number for Germany, for example, is 0800-1002793.

If you are deployed to a country that does not have a fax number, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, use the U.S. DSN Electronic Transmission Service fax number: 223-5527 (You will have to find the right three-digit number to get the DSN line out of your country to the United States).

Step 5: Your request will automatically be routed to your county of residence, which will verify you as a registered voter and send a voting package, with ballot, secrecy waiver, and instructions, back to the fax number you gave them.

Step 6: Follow the directions in the package to fill out the ballot, and fax it back to the same number to which you sent your request. All faxed ballots must be received by county election officials by 8:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Oct. 7.

The only confirmation you will have that your vote was received is your fax machine’s electronic confirmation of successful transmission.

Military members faxing ballots is a precedent that was set in during the 1990 Congressional elections, when many troops were fighting in the Persian Gulf, said Weidmann.

Since that time, 48 states have placed laws on their books allowing for some degree of faxing when elections roll around.


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