By Randy Saunders
50th Space Wing
Elections occur every year in America. In some instances, elected officials leave office requiring special elections to select their successors. Ballot initiatives and other issues go out to voters in off-year election cycles. Some city, county or state office holders face re-election or election during non-federal voting years. Then, every even numbered year, America holds elections for federal office. During these biennial cycles, every seat of the United States House of Representatives and one-third of the United States Senate are elected. Every four years, this general election includes the offices of president and vice president.
2014 is a general election year. Americans will cast ballots to fill 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 33 senate seats and governorships in 36 states and three United States territories. Local and state ballots will include candidates for local and state offices, ballot issues and other referenda. The founders of the American federal republic established this system to ensure the individual citizen maintained political power in the new American experiment, making the American government unlike any before or since.
As members of the United States Armed Forces, whether active duty, Reserve, family member, civilian employee or contractor, we all contribute to the defense of our great republic and the constitution upon which it is founded. Serving, however, is not our only responsibility to America. As citizens, we have a right and a responsibility to exercise our political power by participating in the election process. Through our votes at local, state and federal levels, we select those who will debate and legislate our laws at all levels of government on our behalf. We select those who will provide advice and consent to the president on federal appointments of key cabinet officials and judges. At the local, county and state level, we decide on changes to city or county charters and state constitutions as well as a myriad of other issues.
Some believe military and other absentee ballots don’t count except in close elections. That is false. Election officials across our great country are required to count all legally cast ballots. Some argue that one vote won’t change an election. That also is false. In 2006, an election to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives was decided on two votes. In 2004, only 133 votes determined the governorship of Washington state. And in 2000, only 537 votes determined the recipient of Florida’s Electoral College votes and ultimately, the presidency of the United States. Every vote counts.
As the general election draws near, time is running out to register and cast a ballot in your home state. But what should you do if you do not receive your requested state ballot? If you requested and did not receive a ballot from your local election official for the 2014 general election by early October, contact your unit or installation voting assistance officer or visit www.fvap.gov to complete a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan for sufficient time for your mailed ballot to arrive at your local election office.
From Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 during Absentee Voter Awareness Week, voting assistance officers will be available outside the Satellite Dish dining facility from 10:30 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. to assist any who want to register to vote, who may need to update their voter registration information or who may need a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. These volunteers are also available in most units on the installation. You can also contact the installation voting assistance officer at 567-6877. His office is located in Room 143/144 Building 210. If you prefer to get your forms and information online, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov. There, you will find many helpful aids and election information. Your voting-age dependents may also use the services available from the local Voting Assistance Office and the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.