By Lt. Kristin “NAP” Hope
Special contributor to Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
With all the 2016 election buzz, who you are voting for has probably crossed your mind and with that, you have probably wondered how to vote. Are you going to be deployed? Will you be at sea? Or maybe you and your family are stationed in a state that is different from where you are registered to vote? All of these are challenges Navy voters face, but my team of 2000 voting assistance officers and myself are here to help!
It has been an exciting primary voting season so far. The voting assistance officers have attended workshops across the world to learn about how to better assist voters and common voting mistakes. Some of the most common mistakes we see are voters not signing their forms or not entering the correct addresses in the correct lines. While filling out voting forms, the block titled “My Voting Residence Address” should always be the address of where you are registered to vote. It doesn’t matter if you no longer live there as long as you lived there when you first registered. The block titled “where to send my voting materials” is just that. Keep in mind where you are now versus where you will be this summer when ballots are sent out. If you are going on deployment in the very near future, you should put your deployed address. We all know mail while deployed can take time, especially at sea. You don’t want your ballot sent home, then forwarded to you by your family. It may not give you enough time to get it, fill it out and mail it back to your election official in time for them to count it. However, even if that is the case, you are in luck! If you are registered and haven’t received a ballot by August, it is in your best interest to fill out a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and send that in so that it arrives in time. This will act as your official ballot and allow you to cast your vote just as if you had received your ballot on time.
If you would like to register to vote or fill out your absentee ballot online, the Federal Voting Assistance Program has got you covered with www.fvap.gov! The Federal Voting Assistance Program is the Department of Defense program tasked with ensuring that all American citizens who fall under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act are able to exercise their right to vote. They assist states in complying with federal laws and act as the go between for the DoD and Congress to ensure that voting impediments are identified ahead of time.
If you want to fill out a form in person or have a question, every Navy unit with 25 members or more is required to have at least one unit voting assistance officer to offer assistance. Also, there is one installation voting assistance officer at every Navy installation covered by Commander, Naval Installations Command (CNIC) and each has an office to provide in-person assistance to all local Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act members and their families. Visit https://www.fvap.gov/info/contact/iva-offices or http://www.cnic.navy.mil/navyvoting to find your local installation voting assistance officer.
As the world changes, so does Federal Voting Assistance Program and Navy Voting Assistance Program. All installation voting assistance officers and unit voting assistance officers are now able to log all required training and reports online at the Federal Voting Assistance Program portal and voters can received daily Navy Voting news from either https://www.facebook.com/NavyVoting/ or https://twitter.com/NavyVoting/
Do you have voting questions? Have you faced challenges when it comes to voting in the Navy?
Editor’s note: Lt. Kristin Hope is the Navy Service Voting Action Officer under Navy Installations Command.