One of the greatest rights we all possess is the right to vote.
It is a right that every Service member fights to defend.
However, sometimes Service members are unable to take advantage of this privilege because they do not know or understand the necessary requirements.
The purpose of the Installation Voting Assistance Office is to provide Service members, their families and retirees with all possible help in registering to vote and answering other voting-related questions.
Why is voting different for military members and their families?
Voting in the U.S. is controlled and conducted by state governments who have various rules, whether it's for voting early, by absentee or at local polls if a local voter is temporarily gone on election day.
Military voting is different because extended or overseas absences can prevent Service members from using normal state voting rules. A special law, called the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, or UOCAVA, requires that the states and territories allow certain groups to register and vote absentee in federal elections.
What if I am deployed?
While a few deploying or deployed members may be able to vote at their local polls prior to departure, or will return in time to vote at their local polls, most deployed members must use the absentee voting process if they want to vote. Local briefings during deployment processing should encourage deploying members 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 action officers (or unit voting assistance officer) and Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team members can help. PERSCO teams should also have copies of the SF-76 and SF-186. The SF-76 is available at the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site.
Click the icon to visit the FVAP site.
Who is eligible to vote under the UOCAVA law?
All members of the U.S. uniformed services (on active duty) including Merchant Marines, their family members and U.S. citizens residing outside the U.S.
Where is my "legal voting residence?"
For voting purposes, the "legal voting residence" can be the state or territory where the Service member last resided prior to entering military service or the state or territory that a Service member has since claimed as the legal residence.
To claim a new legal residence, one must have simultaneous physical presence and the intent to return to that location as the primary residence. Military and family members can choose to change their legal residence every time they change permanent duty stations.
Military members and their families can have different legal voting residences. A legal officer should be consulted before legal residence is changed because there are usually other factors, besides voting, that need to be considered. People (such as property owners) can claim residency even though they may no longer maintain formal ties to that former residence address.
All related paperwork should list the former address because it is needed to place people in a proper voting district, ward, precinct or parish.