|WASHINGTON (Army News Service) - - The Army Voting
Assistance Program kicked off its voter registration drive this month to ensure that every
eligible soldier has a chance to participate in the Nov. 7 general election.
McCoy sets procedures
|All Fort McCoy personnel planning to
vote by absentee ballots in the upcoming fall elections are encouraged to obtain a Federal
Post Card Application.
Information on how to complete the form, where to mail it, and
what the deadlines are can be obtained from their unit voting officer or the Installation
Voting Officer Bill Byrne by calling (608) 388-4696 or email bill.byrne@emh2.
Everyone in the Fort McCoy community, including family members, is encouraged to invest
in America by voting.
During August, every soldier and overseas civilian employee will be given a Federal
Post Card Application (FPCA), Standard Form (SF)-76, that will allow him or her to
register to vote and request absentee ballots, officials said.
The month-long effort to register voters will be followed by Armed Forces Voters Week
Sept. 3-9 and marks one of the last few weeks that voters can safely submit the FPCA and
meet most state deadlines, Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) officials say.
One of the goals of the voting assistance program is to emphasize the importance of
requesting registration and absentee ballots as soon as possible and encourage voters to
return those ballots in time to reach their local election official's by deadline.
Deadlines vary for each state and can be as early as 30 days prior to the election or
as late as the day of the election, but that doesn't leave any time to return the ballots,
said Scott Wiedmann, FVAP deputy director.
Each state deadline is listed separately in Chapter 3 of the 2000-01 Voting Assistance
Guide, which can be obtained by contacting voting assistance officers at military
installations, U.S. embassies or consulates. A copy also is available at the FVAP Web site
Generally, most states will start mailing ballots to citizens 30-45 days before the
election. "In order to give yourself the most time, voters should have their requests
in prior to that 45-day period, then their ballots will be among the first to go
out," Wiedmann said.
"Any time now is a good time to start requesting absentee ballots," Wiedmann
The Army Voting Assistance Program is part of the FVAP whose mission is to assist
soldiers and other eligible individuals in requesting information about the election,
registration, and absentee ballots.
An individual must be a U.S. citizen 18 years or older to be eligible to vote.
The program accomplishes its mission through the services provided by more than 70,000
voting assistance officers (VAOs) in military units, 250 Embassy and Consulate VAOs,
thousands of state and government officials, and personnel at 6,000 Armed Forces
recruitment offices nationwide.
The FVAP provides assistance to about 1.4 million military members, 1.3 million
eligible dependents, and 200,000 federal civilian employees outside the United States,
"Although we can't do anything that is partisan, we can educate (voters) on how to
participate," Wiedmann said.
That education includes reminding soldiers and overseas civilian employees of
directives, policies and legal limits governing their conduct during an election year.
While it does not draft the directives, the FVAP recommends that members of the Armed
Forces refer to the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 and overseas civilian
employees refer to the Federal Hatch Act for information on conduct during the election
season, Wiedmann said.
Most civilian employees may be involved in political campaigns such as voter
registration drives and can actively support candidates in partisan elections, but there
are important restrictions on certain other political activities whether on or off duty.
Soldiers are on duty 24-hours-a-day. They can not participate in partisan political
"management, campaigns and conventions." They are free to express their
"personal opinions on political candidates and issues, but not as representatives of
the Armed Forces."
Federal employees can visit the Federal Hatch Act Web site at www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm
for more information on prohibited political activities. Members of the Armed Forces can
visit the Department of Defense web site at www.defenselink.mil to view a copy of DoD
The FVAP also recommends that soldiers check with their commanding officers or legal
officers at their installations regarding political activities during the election season
to be sure that any specific guidelines set by the installation are followed, Wiedmann
Army leaders at all levels are encouraged to support FVAP effort to provide all
eligible voters the opportunity to participate in the upcoming election, Feazell said.
"We ask that commanders get personally involved in conjunction with the FVAP to
urge, motivate and educate soldiers to participate so soldiers can exercise their rights
as citizens," said Thomas Feazell, Army Voting Assistance coordinator. "If you
are not a voter you are not involved in the United States process of freedom,"
Feazell said. "As a soldier you're just serving with no voice."