Story by MC2 Kathleen O’Keefe
Photo by MC3 Lex T. Wenberg
Sailors at sea or stationed abroad often miss out on the comforts of life in the United States, but one program guarantees that they never miss out on the inalienable right to cast their vote.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) enables all uniformed service members, their families and citizens living outside the United States to vote in federal elections.
“It is important that we vote, said Stennis’ Voting Officer Aviation Structural Mechanic Chief Adam Rocks. “Absentee ballots do count and can make a difference. The margin of victory for the 2000 presidential election was less than the total number of absentee ballots submitted.”
To begin using the FVAP, Sailors should log on to http://www. fvap.gov and click on the “Get Started” tab located on the home page. The site will then guide users through every step of the absentee voting process. The page also answers many frequently asked questions about absentee voting in case users find themselves confused about the process and provides personalized election information.
“The best part about it is that the you can actually sign up for voting alerts and you will receive a message via email when there is an election going on that you are eligible to vote on weather it be local, state, or federal,” said Rocks.
Sailors can also find information regarding voting requirements for their state of residence, information on commonly used forms in absentee voting and federal laws concerning elections.
FVAP doesn’t only help Sailors that are stationed overseas or deployed. Sailors that are stationed in the U.S., but outside of the state they are registered to vote in can also use the program.
“Sailors deserve the right to vote no matter where they are stationed,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Christopher Chason. “I’m glad we have this resource available to us.”
Rocks believes that absentee voting is an invaluable chance for service members to make a difference no matter where the mission takes them.
“We are deployed halfway around the world to help protect our rights and defend our way of life,” said Rocks. “We owe it to ourselves and our nation to exercise the very rights we are charged with defending. Absentee ballots do count and can make a difference.”
Sailors interested in learning more about voting absentee should contact their departmental Assistant Voting Officers who will be able to instruct Sailors on a more personal level on how to register and cast their ballot.