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WWW.Huh?: Voting Info Available via Internet

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2000 – You can tell it's an election year, because there's a nonstop media barrage telling which candidates are saying what where. But where do uniformed members find clear-cut information on how to vote in their home districts?

Well, look no further than the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site, www.fvap.ncr.gov. Program officials have created the "one-stop shop" for the roughly 6 million potential voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986.

The FVAP is responsible for informing and educating all U.S. citizens worldwide of their right to vote, fostering voter participation and protecting the integrity of the electoral process at the federal, state and local levels.

To military members and civilian employees and their families stationed oversees, the different voting rules at federal, state and local levels may be as confusing as a maze. Perhaps the most important thing for them to know about absentee voting is how and why to fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, Standard Form 186.

When a Web site visitor clicks on "Learn About Absentee Voting," several links will lead to different information about the postcard-sized form, which isn't available online. Individuals are advised to see their unit voting assistance officer.

The site gives guidelines for determining or establishing a legal residence. Some service members mistakenly believe they may claim any state as their legal residence or that their home of record is automatically their legal residence. Actually, they must meet certain requirements. For instance, a person must have a physical presence in a state and have an intent to remain or return. Also, spouses can't just assume their sponsor's legal residence; they must meet the same requirements in their own right.

Residency and other rules are spelled out by clicking on "Learn About Absentee Voting" and then on "Voting Residence for UOCAVA Citizens."

Other helpful features on the site include links to state election sites, a handy chart listing the dates of all state primary elections, and answers to frequently asked questions. There is also a link to a U.S. House of Representatives page that lets visitors search for their representative by state and ZIP code.

The site further helps unit voting assistance officers by providing information on training and allowing them to download pamphlets and flyers about the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

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