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Some Joint Endeavor Voters May Cast Their Ballots by Fax

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 1996 – Eighteen states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands will allow U.S. citizens in Bosnia to vote by fax in the federal elections Nov. 5.

However, officials with the Federal Voting Assistance Office said voters should fax their completed ballots only when conditions don't allow the timely return of written ballots. Those who fax completed ballots must also mail original ballots to their state election boards.

States accepting completed ballots by fax are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

All states and territories except West Virginia are accepting and sending electronic election materials to those supporting Joint Endeavor. These election materials include the completed Federal Post Card application (Standard Form 76) and the blank absentee ballot.

"Our goal is to ensure every eligible citizen has the opportunity to vote," said Phyllis Taylor, the Federal Voting Assistance Program director. "The ability to transmit voting material electronically helps make this happen."

Still, military voters must follow certain rules to protect their votes. All election fax transactions must go through the Federal Voting Assistance Program office in Washington at (703) 693-5527, DSN 223-5527 or (800) 386-8683. By faxing the ballot to Washington, program officials can document ballots received and forward them to appropriate election officials.

In faxing the completed ballot, officials said, voters must realize they are waiving the right to a secret ballot. Voters must sign a statement acknowledging they are waiving that right. Voting assistance officers will help prepare ballots to meet state requirements.

Defense officials said AT&T will provide free commercial circuits and fax machines at 16 key locations in Bosnia to help U.S. citizens cast their votes.

Some states will fax Joint Endeavor voters a blank ballot, but will not accept faxed completed ballots. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Election officials from those states urged voters to vote promptly and mail their ballots as soon as possible.

States and territories not faxing blank ballots are American Samoa, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Guam, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

Voting officials also emphasized this program is for Joint Endeavor voters only. All others military voters must follow guidelines outlined in the Voting Assistance Guide 1996-97. Under normal guidelines, 36 states, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands permit service members to fax absentee ballot requests. Most of those states also allow voter registration by fax.

However, only Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands will accept marked ballots via fax without question. Indiana, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will accept completed ballots only in emergencies.

More information regarding this fax service and voting assistance is available through unit voting information officers or by contacting the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The address is:

Federal Voting Assistance Program
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Room 1B457
The Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-1155.

Those with e-mail can drop a line at fvap@fvo.osd.mil to ask voting questions, or they can call (800) 438-VOTE, (703) 695-0663 or DSN 225-0663.

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