Deciding the future one vote at a time

Voting is everyone's responsibility. Visit www.afpc.af.mil/library/airforcevoting/index.asp for more information. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

Voting is everyone's responsibility. Visit www.afpc.af.mil/library/airforcevoting/index.asp for more information. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

The responsibility of choosing the newest leader of the state or our country is left to the people of the nation; this includes the proud members of the U.S. military, whether they are located locally or overseas.

Voting is vital to the outcome of our nation’s future, and being aware of all the voting methods available will assist in choosing the best option for each individual.

“This is a right that isn't afforded to people in other countries around the world,” said Capt. Kyle Smith, 4th Medical Support Squadron staff pharmacist. “This is your chance to elect your government officials that will guide the course of our country. Also, the elected officials are the people that control the direction of our Air Force. Take your time to learn about the candidates and their platform so you can be an educated voter. Go out and exercise your right to vote.”

Military members may encounter different processes for voting. Deployments or living in a state not listed as a member’s resident state can make it confusing on how one can register to vote and cast their ballot, but there are methods of doing so.

Most military members who are or will be deployed during an election must use the absentee voting process if they want to vote and are encouraged to take a copy of two voting forms with them:  the SF-76, or Federal Post Card Application, and the SF-186, or Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Base voting representatives and Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team members should also have copies of the SF-76 and SF-186 available.

“Make sure you're registered with your state by the deadline for the upcoming election, primaries and general elections have different dates,” Smith said. “Know the deadlines for your absentee ballot. If voting locally, know where your polling location is and the hours they're open. Don't mock people that have different opinions on political matters. Don't be a lazy voter. Don't give up if you're confused with your state's voting process. The Voting Assistance Office can help, if needed.”

All military members and their families are able to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, or UOCAVA, but can vote locally, if they so choose. If a member is a resident of a state other than where they are stationed, voting at their current base may result in a change of residency.

“If the voter is registered locally, go to your local polling place (http://www.ncsbe.gov/),” said Smith. “If the voter will have to vote absentee, I would recommend either visiting the Voting Assistance Office on base at the Fire Station or go to www.fvap.gov for information on their state's absentee ballot process.”

For those who would like to keep their state of residency, casting an absentee ballot for their chosen state is an available option. Members should ask their base legal office for advice on legal and tax policies and obligations.

According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, military voting is different because extended or overseas absences can prevent service members from using normal state voting rules. The UOCAVA law requires that the states and territories allow certain groups to register and vote absentee in federal elections.

For additional information visit: http://www.afpc.af.mil/AIR-FORCE-VOTING/.