Armed Forces Voter Week Begins Aug. 31
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2008 With Armed Forces Voters Week set to start Aug. 31, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has launched a full-court press to get servicemembers, their families and Defense Department civilians the absentee ballots they need to participate in the upcoming election.
The special week, which runs through Sept. 7, is aimed at all citizens voting under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and DoD civilians who have not yet registered to vote or requested an absentee ballot should do so next week, officials said.
Hundreds of thousands of DoD personnel are deployed or stationed around the world. They cannot simply walk into their neighborhood polling places and cast their ballots on Nov. 4, as most American voters will do. Registering to vote or requesting an absentee ballot during Armed Forces Voters Week allows enough time for local election officials to process the request, send the materials to voters and get the completed ballots back by the various state or territory deadlines.
Those who think their votes are immaterial should consider Florida in the 2000 election. The election was among the closest in history. After all the “hanging chads,” court cases and political maneuvering were complete, the official tally in Florida for the two main candidates was 2,912,720 for George W. Bush and 2,912,253 for Al Gore. The election was determined by a 467-vote difference.
All military units have voting assistance officers, and each American embassy or consulate can help U.S. citizens exercise their rights to vote. For those with Internet access, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has a user-friendly Web site at www.fvap.gov.