August 5, 2016
Absentee voting issues for military members and families tend to become an issue in every election cycle. If you plan to submit an absentee ballot for this upcoming election, make sure you know the facts.
According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), there are many misconceptions about the absentee voting system. Check out some of the most common myths below:
Myth: States all have the same election rules and deadlines for military and overseas voters.
Reality: False. States have different rules about how and when the forms are returned. Visit FVAP for your State-specific guidelines.
Myth: Absentee ballots only count in close elections.
Reality: False. Absentee ballots submitted in accordance with State laws are counted for every election. The difference is that in a close election, the media reports that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots are counted in the final totals for every election - and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.
Myth: Military spouses and dependents cannot use military absentee voting forms.
Reality: False. Military family members who will be 18 years old by Election Day should use the same Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) that members of the Uniformed Services and overseas citizens do, even when voting absentee Stateside. Dependents attending college overseas should also use those forms.
Myth: Absentee ballots are not secret.
Reality: False. State absentee ballots and the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot are designed with a “Secrecy Envelope” allowing for the separation of the voter's identity from the cast ballot. Voting Assistance Officers also ensure voters casting absentee ballots on DoD facilities are able to do so in a private and independent manner. Local election officials are professionals who go to great lengths in their ballot handling procedures to ensure your vote, and personal information, are kept private.
Myth: I can vote in person at a local embassy/consulate or on a military installation.
Reality: You cannot vote in person at a local embassy, consulate or on a military installation. U.S. elections are run at the State level and citizens must communicate directly with their election official to register, request a ballot and vote. Voting Assistance is available at most embassies and consulates and in all military units to help in the completion of necessary forms. Be sure to account for submission and mail delivery time to ensure your forms are received by the State deadline.
Myth: Voting will affect the tax status of overseas citizens.
Reality: It depends. Voting for Federal office candidates will not affect your Federal or State tax liability. Depending on the laws of your State, voting for State or local offices may affect your State income tax liability. If you are concerned about your State tax status, consult legal counsel.
Myth: I can't vote if I'm deployed.
Reality: False. You absolutely can vote while deployed. If you're registered to vote while deployed and you don't get your State ballot in time to vote from your location, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) found at FVAP.gov. Remember to submit the form at least 30 days before the scheduled election.
“As powerful as our voice has been, no voice speaks louder or more clearly than that of an informed military voter,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret).
To request an absentee ballot or get additional information, visit: www.FVAP.gov.