Due to recent deployments, many Fort Stewart soldiers are a long way from a voter registration office or polling station with an impending national election.
Three battalions from the 3rd Infantry Division — including the 3rd ID’s headquarters battalion and several smaller support units — are deployed to Afghanistan. Anthony Plumey, Stewart’s voting assistance officer, said despite being “downrange,” the 3rd ID’s deployed soldiers still have time to register and vote in the Nov. 6 election.
“The deadline to cast an absentee ballot differs in each state, but the deadline to receive an absentee ballot in most states is 30 days out (from the election),” said Plumey, who stressed that soldiers must first make sure they’re registered to vote. “They can (register) by visiting one of the unit (voting assistance officers), or they can go to their state’s website, download and print their voter registration form. They’ll have to mail it in. Once they’re registered, they can download their state’s absentee ballot, print it and mail that in.”
Plumey said the 3rd ID has a trained voting assistance officer assigned to every unit of 100 or more soldiers.
He said soldiers have an additional option of downloading the federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB), which allows them to vote in the national election for the president and write in their choice for their state’s U.S. House of Representatives candidate and/or U.S. Senate candidate.
According to the Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) website, soldiers or civilians stationed or serving overseas should use the FWAB if they think they may not get their state absentee ballot in time to vote and return it 30 days before the election.
The FVAP website explains the process required to register to vote and how to obtain an absentee ballot. The website also reminds soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan to allow four weeks for mailing ballots in time for the election.
Important dates for deployed soldiers to remember are:
• Register to vote by Oct. 9.
• Request an absentee ballot by Oct. 30.
• Return an absentee ballot by Nov. 14.
Capt. Jessica Armstrong, adjutant and voting assistance officer for 3rd ID’s headquarters and headquarters battalion, discussed the simplicity and information provided by the FVAP website.
“The (Federal Voter Absentee Program) website allows soldiers to register, request an absentee ballot and vote,” she said, noting that the signature block at the end of the ballot does not require a witness or notary public seal. “The (Declaration/Affirmation) at the end of the ballot once completed and printed states, ‘Witness not required.’”
For more information, Armstrong said soldiers should contact their unit’s voting-assistance officer or go to www.FVAP.gov.