From Peterson Installation Voting Assistance Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Armed Forces Voters Week is June 28 through July 7. That’s our week to remind everyone to register to vote and request absentee ballots. As the national conventions draw near and the general election for president is set for November, it’s a good time to address some misguided myths about absentee voting.
1. Absentee ballots aren’t counted unless it’s a close election.
False. False. False. And, by the way — FALSE!!! Every absentee ballot is counted as long as it is properly completed, sent to the right place and arrives by the deadline set by your state.
2. Military spouses and dependants can use military absentee voting forms.
True — Gotcha! Your spouse and your child (as long as the child will be 18 years old Nov. 6, 2012) can use the same SF 76 (Federal Postcard Application) and SF 186 (Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot) as you do. They can even go on-line and register using the same website: www.fvap.gov. If your child is away at college, they can still use those forms and website.
3. Once registered to vote, always registered to vote.
False. If you change your address, change your name or establish residency in a new state, you need to update your voting information. A standard USPS Change of Address form doesn’t always make its way to your county elections office. That’s one of the reasons your unit voting assistance officer sends you a SF 76 each January — to remind you to update your home state with any changes. They will also remind you to register to vote and request an absentee ballot on the same form.
4. My state of legal residence will track me.
False. (See number three.) Did you know some states drop you from their registration rolls if you don’t vote in two successive elections? For those of you who only vote during presidential election years, you might have been dropped by your home state. You can check this link to see if you are still registered: http://www.fvap.gov/reference/links.html#svrvw. Find your state under the state voter registration verification websites, click on it and follow the directions.
5. I’m a legal resident of Colorado and I live in Colorado, so I can’t vote absentee.
False. Colorado caters to all absentee voters, military or civilian. Did you know there are options to vote on-line in Colorado? They’ll even ask you if you’d like to be a “permanent absentee voter.” Colorado’s voter registration website is https://www.sos.state.co.us/Voter/secuRegVoterIntro.do. For legal Colorado residents who are in the military, there’s a link on the side for military or overseas voters, or you can register using the federal voting assistance program website: www.fvap.gov.
6. I’m a Reservist. I can’t use the military absentee voting forms.
False again. While most reservists are residents of the state in which they serve, they can deploy to remote locations. The SF 186 is a “must-use tool” if a reservist is deploying or performing duties away from their home state.
7. I can’t vote if I’m deployed.
False. Of course, you can vote while deployed! If you are registered to vote while deployed and you don’t get your state ballot, you can use the SF 186. Remember to send it at least 4-6 weeks before Nov. 6 (by Sept. 22 is a safe bet).
8. I got my pre-printed state ballot from my state a few days after I sent in my SF 186, so now I can fill it out and send it in.
True. You won’t be voting twice, either. For example: you’re already registered, but you didn’t receive your state ballot by Sept. 15, so you went to www.fvap.gov and filled out the SF 186 and mailed it. Two days later, you get your state ballot. You are required to fill it out and send it. If your home state receives both ballots — they’ll only count the one they mailed to you.
Finally, there are also two bad truths about absentee voting. If you don’t register, you can’t vote. If you don’t send in your ballot, it won’t get counted.
Use the absentee voting system to your advantage. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (www.fvap.gov) has an excellent on-line voting assistant that can automatically populate your home state’s specific requirements, insert eligible candidates and offer you options for how to submit your forms and ballot.
The state of Colorado Secretary of State election division’s website is very user friendly, https://www.sos.state.co.us/Voter/secuRegVoter. At Peterson AFB, the base voting office is located in Building 982. The entrance is located on Suffolk Street near Dover Street. It’s open Tuesday through Friday 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Most importantly, every unit has a unit voting assistance officer who can help you and your dependants. Contact Gail Whalen, installation voting assistance officer, for more information at 556-5543, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Vote@peterson.af.mil.