Military Voter Registration Campaign Slated for August
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 1996 Installation commanders worldwide are targeting military and civilian voters during a weeklong voter registration campaign Aug. 2531.
Armed Forces Voters Week, sponsored by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, encourages voters to request registration and absentee ballots for the 1996 general elections. These voters include military personnel, their eligible family members and DoD civilians working overseas.
Although election laws differ from state to state, most state election boards require absentee ballot requests at least 30 days before the general election. With Election Day Nov. 5, Armed Forces Voters Week may be the last opportunity many have to register for federal, state and local elections.
"It is critical that unregistered citizens submit the FPCA [federal post card application] as soon as possible, particularly those who reside overseas," said Phyllis Taylor, Federal Voting Assistance Program director. "Some states require ballot receipt before the day of the election, which cuts further into the time the voter has to return his or her voted ballot."
To help voters meet state deadlines, Taylor recommended community involvement during Armed Forces Voters Week. "Wives clubs, family services and veterans organizations are excellent sources of help for registration drives, distribution of registration forms and general assistance during the week," she said.
Local publicity campaigns, ranging from installation newspaper features and posters to television and radio coverage, can inform voters when and where registration events occur.
Installation and unit voting assistance officers play key roles during Armed Forces Voters Week. They may advise voters on special state registration requirements and assist voters with special administrative details required by some states.
Although they cannot advise voters on specific candidates or issues, voting assistance officers can refer voters to other information sources. Those sources include local, regional and national newspapers, information pamphlets from political parties and the DoD Voting Information Center at (703) 6936500 or DSN 2236500.
Armed Forces Voters Week is the first of two registration campaigns sponsored by the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The other is Overseas Citizens Voters Week June 30 through July 6. This campaign targets personnel assigned to U.S. embassies and consulates, as well as Americans working with U.S. commercial firms overseas.
At stake this year are the presidency and vice presidency, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 33 seats in the U.S. Senate and 11 state governorships. In addition, voters will elect other state, county, city and village officials and decide local issues that affect their hometowns.