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Officials Urge Military Voters to Send in Absentee Ballots

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2008 – Overseas-deployed servicemembers and other troops serving outside their home states need to fill out and forward their absentee ballots so their votes can be counted as part of the Nov. 4 federal and state elections, Defense Department officials said today.

Scott Wiedmann, deputy director of DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, said during an interview with Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters that some military voters may be waiting for ballots.

“Realizing that military members may be forward-deployed or at training for a period of time, upon returning they may find that their ballot has arrived,” Wiedmann said. “We encourage individuals to vote that ballot from the state as soon as they get it.”

Many states do allow ballot and registration requests well into this month, Wiedmann said.

Meanwhile, the Military Postal Service Agency and the U.S. Postal Service are working together to expedite the delivery of ballots to and from overseas locales, Wiedmann said. Deadline dates for forwarding overseas ballots can be obtained from the MPSA web site, hqdainet.army.mil/mpsa/vote.htm.

“The week immediately preceding the election, the U.S. Postal Service will express mail all of those ballots back to local officials to help ensure that they get back by the close of polls on Election Day,” Wiedmann said.

Some 20 states allow for late counting of absentee ballots, Wiedmann said, as long as the ballots are signed, dated and postmarked by the day of election.

It’s a myth, Wiedmann said, that absentee ballots for a general election contest only count during a close election. In fact, all properly submitted absentee ballots are counted in every general election, he said.

“The localities want to ensure that all ballots that do arrive are counted and part of the final total of the election,” Wiedmann said. “So, every ballot that’s submitted does count.”

Voters without state-supplied ballots can fill out the federal write-in absentee ballot, Wiedmann said, which has space for voters to select their choices for candidates running for the presidency, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The federal write-in absentee ballot also includes space for some local elective offices, he noted, but those votes may or may not be counted, dependent upon local election laws and regulations.

Additionally, “if the voter does receive their ballot from their state any time before the election, we encourage them to submit that, as well,” Wiedmann said. Checks are in place, he said, to preclude double-counting of votes.

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Related Sites:
Federal Voting Assistance Program
MPSA Federal Voting Program


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