We seldom hear about the difference overseas military voting makes, but they have enormous potential. More than a dozen races were decided by a handful of votes in recent years. The most consequential came in 2008, when the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota was won by just 312 votes.
Yet, on election night, no one mentioned just how close that race was. It’s no wonder military members and their families who are posted overseas can feel disconnected during election season. There are no political ads dominating their airwaves, no debates to watch and on election night, the overseas and military votes are always “still to be counted.”
Absentee ballots for registered military and military-connected voters have already been sent, but Americans overseas who haven’t received a ballot yet don’t have to wait.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) has created an online assistant to help service members and their voting-aged family members fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), a backup absentee ballot for their voting state.
The FWAB allows military voters and their families stationed away from home to go online and fill out a back-up ballot based on their voting district by entering their address information. They can fill out their ballot, print it, and mail it in within the time it takes to read this article.
FVAP recommends you send your FWAB by October 1 if you are aboard a ship at sea, October 24 for those stationed overseas, and if you’re a military member stateside voting outside their home district, October 31 is the recommended deadline to postmark it. Once your vote is in, you can watch election returns, confident your vote was counted. After voting, you can check the status of your ballot by visiting FVAP.gov and selecting your state.
If your absentee ballot arrives after you submit your FWAB, you should still fill it out and mail it to the provided address as soon as you receive it. Your election official will know to only count one of your ballots.
FVAP is a bipartisan, federally-funded government entity that ensures the military and other uniformed service members and their families know how they can vote while stationed away — whether stateside or overseas — and helps get their ballots to the polls in time to be counted.
There may still be plenty of time to fill out a FWAB and get your vote counted by election day, November 8, 2022, depending on your state’s deadline. If you’re a military member or military family member posted overseas, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s FWAB online assistant to get started.