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U.S. citizens living and working overseas should act soon — in some cases, very soon — to ensure they will be eligible to vote and obtain ballots for 2006 primary and general elections.

The first state primary is March 7 in Texas, for which voters must register no later than Monday, Feb. 6, to cast ballots.

Illinois, which is holding a March 21 primary, also has a registration deadline 30 days in advance of voting day.

Next up are primaries are in Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio, all on May 2.

Registration deadlines vary from state to state and are available at http://www.eac.gov/register_vote_deadlines.asp.

To vote in home-state races, servicemembers and DOD civilians must fill out a Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA, for an absentee ballot.

“And do it pretty soon,” said Chief Petty Officer Chris Alford, voting assistance officer for Commander, Task Force 76 at Sasebo Naval Base.

Applications are available from voting assistance officers at all military facilities and U.S. Embassies.

They also may be downloaded at the Federal Voting Assistance Program site, http://fvap.gov/pubs/onlinefpca.pdf.

A quick turnaround gives election offices time to mail out absentee ballots and voters time to return them before election deadlines, Alford said.

Maj. William R. Hurtle, voting assistance officer for Yokota Air Base, said that to vote in most states’ primaries, voters must register a political party affiliation.

Otherwise, each state has specific instructions, which can be found at http://fvap.gov/pubs/vag/vagchapter3.html.

Hurtle said voter assistance officers also should have instructions on how to fill out FPCA forms.

In most cases, said Alford, the state shown on federal leave and earnings statements is your state of residence.

“You can’t just decide to vote in a state only because you’re stationed there, or if you just left there, unless you’ve made it your official state residence,” he said.

Not sure if the election office where you registered last knows where you are?

When U.S. citizens overseas move, “they should send in another form so local election offices have their correct address and the ballot will arrive in a timely manner,” Scott Wiedmann, FVAP deputy director, was quoted in an American Forces News Service release as stating.

Said Hurtle: “I would encourage everyone to submit an FPCA early every year. This will ensure that you receive ballots for all your local and state elections that you may not have been aware of.”

Voting assistance(All numbers DSN)

JAPAN

Naval Air Facility Atsugi: 264-3341

Camp Fuji: 224-8329

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, a base spokesman said, designates voter assistance contacts within major units: Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 253-5149; Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, 253-5398; Combat Supply Support Division 36, 253-6059; Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, 253-6045: and Marine Air Group 12, 253-3946

Misawa Air Base: 226-3075.

Sasebo Naval Base: 252-3385.

Yokosuka Naval Base: 243-5000.

Yokota Air Base: 225-6226.

Camp Zama: 263-7155.

U.S. Embassy, Tokyo: 224-5856.

OKINAWA

Marine Corps bases in Okinawa, 645-7276; Headquarters and Services Battalion, 645-7311; III Marine Expeditionary Force, 623-7273.

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa: 636-3006.

Kadena Air Base: 634-2984.

SOUTH KOREA

Area I: 732-6918

Area II: 738-7621

Area III: 753-6245

Area IV: 768-8435

Kunsan Air Base: 782-5155.

Osan Air Base: Information not available.

(From staff reports)

Top 10 tipsStart by seeking help from your base or unit voting assistance officer, or the U.S. Embassy in your country.Visit the FVAP Web site at www.fvap.gov for information on the absentee registration and voting process.Ensure you have applied for your absentee ballot using the hard copy or online versions of the Federal Post Card Application.Make sure your stateside local election official has your current mailing address.Sign and date all election materials.Fulfill your state’s witness and notary requirements, if needed.Ensure that your ballot or FPCA is postmarked.Register to vote and request your ballot no later than September.Vote and mail your ballot no later than Oct. 15 of the election year.Use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot if you are overseas and your state absentee ballot does not arrive in time to be mailed back by the state’s deadline.(Source: Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program)

2006 state primariesMarch 7: Texas.

March 21: Illinois.

May 2: Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio.

May 9: Nebraska, West Virginia.

May 16: Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania.

May 23: Arkansas, Idaho.

May 30: North Carolina.

June 6: Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota.

June 13: Maine, North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia.

June 27: Utah.

July 18: Georgia.

July 25: Oklahoma.

Aug. 1: Kansas.

Aug. 3: Tennessee.

Aug. 8: Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri.

Aug. 15: Nevada.

Aug. 22: Alaska, Wyoming.

Sept. 2: Guam.

Sept. 5: Florida.

Sept. 11: Virgin Islands.

Sept. 12: Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin.

Sept. 19: Massachusetts, Washington.

Sept. 23: Hawaii.

Nov. 7: Louisiana.

(Source: Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program)

RAVA assists overseas voters

The Overseas Vote Foundation has announced the launch of RAVA, its new Registration and Absentee Voter Application, the first nonpartisan, secure, Internet-based voter registration solution for both military and overseas citizen voters.

“RAVA is to voter registration what ‘Turbo Tax’ is to filing taxes,” Susan Dzieduszycka- Suinat, OVF executive director said in a news release. “As of today, eligible American civilian and military voters anywhere in the world can use RAVA to complete their voter registration in as little as five minutes. The system provides the voter with a mailing address and state-specific signing instructions.”

Some 7 million U.S. citizens in and out of uniform whose voting program falls under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, are eligible to use the system.

UOCAVA voters include civilians and U.S. government employees abroad, active-duty military both within and outside of the U.S., and their accompanying dependents.

The system is accessible via www.ovf-rava.org, www.overseasvotefoundation.org and www.overseasvote.org.

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