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It’s your civic duty as an American to vote, and it is a precious American right. Remember that your vote always counts – not just in close elections, but in every election. And you don’t have to be an expert on the issues to cast a vote. With the proper research, you can vote confidently this election season.Why your vote matters
Whether you are voting for the school board, the city council or president of the United States, your vote matters and could help set the course of the nation for years to come. You’re part of the military family. Elected officials make decisions about many things that affect you, including military and veterans benefits. It’s your life – so make your voice heard.
- Know yourself and the issues that are important to you. Think about what concerns you – issues like education, civil rights, international relations, health care, religious beliefs and equality. Once you determine what matters most to you, you can look for a candidate who shares those values.
- Look for candidate qualities you can support. Research the candidates’ platforms and try to figure out what each one plans to do while in office. With a little investigation – like checking candidates’ websites or attending forums – you can feel good about casting your vote for someone who will support your values.
- Be skeptical. Candidates sometimes say what voters want to hear. Try to determine how they plan to accomplish the goals they promote in the campaign. If they have been in office already, check out their votes on past issues.
- Find information from diverse sources. Don’t limit your research to websites, talk shows or news outlets that support one candidate. Find outlets that seem neutral or unbiased. Check outlets representing the other side, so you can consider topics from different perspectives. Limiting your research to just one source may restrict your understanding of the issues.
- Be careful about what you read and choose to believe. This is especially important regarding information you receive about a candidate that comes from an opponent. Fact check what you read and hear against trusted sources.
Once you have enough information on each candidate, you can cast your vote with confidence.Stay respectful during election season
However you get involved in an election, show courtesy and respect for the views of others, then follow these tips:
Be prepared when it's time to vote
- Respect those whose beliefs differ from yours. The great thing about being an American is the ability to think and speak out about our beliefs. Democracy was built on our differences. You may learn something new if you listen to and engage others in conversation.
- Be sure any social media or media tidbits you may want to pass on about a candidate are accurate. Remember, what you send via social media may affect others who don’t share your beliefs or sense of humor.
- Remember that members of the armed forces on active duty must adhere to the Hatch Act and DOD Directive 1344.10 and should not engage in partisan political activities such as political campaigns in a partisan election, while on duty.
Your vote counts so be ready to vote on Election Day. Here are some ways you can prepare in the months and weeks leading up:
- Be sure your voter registration is up to date; if it’s not, register to vote. Also, make sure you know where to cast your ballot. Active-duty military and eligible family members stationed outside their voting jurisdiction can visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website for resources and information about registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot and more. If you are stationed in the same county where you want to register to vote or are already registered, then visit vote.gov for more information. If you need an absentee ballot, send in your registration application and ballot request form, or Federal Post Card Application, every year and every time you move.
- Keep track of dates. Know the primary election dates for your state, so you can be prepared.
- Make yourself a cheat sheet. Most states have sample ballots you can print, mark, add notes to or list questions you may have.
You can vote from anywhere in the world by requesting an absentee ballot. If you’ll be deployed during the election season or want to vote in your state of legal residence, you can request an absentee ballot ahead of the deadline. The same applies for military spouses and other eligible family members.
For more information about absentee voting, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website and read the program’s fact sheets on absentee ballots and how to fill out your FPCA. You can also contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to find out about the absentee voting process or get in touch with your local installation voting assistance officer. Just be sure to follow the recommended mailing dates and service alerts to ensure your vote is received on time.Federal Voting Assistance Program resources
Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Voters can find helpful resources on FVAP.gov, including COVID-19 information and two visual maps that depict how states accept the FPCA or ballot.
Envelopes: Voters can download postage-paid envelope templates that will allow them to mail back their voting materials free of charge from any military post office at a military installation or via diplomatic pouch at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.
Languages: Voters who prefer to read absentee voting information in Arabic, French or Spanish can find translations of instructions for filling out the FPCA and Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot.
Installation voting assistance office: Active-duty military and military spouses can find and get help from their IVAO.
Subscribe: Voters can also subscribe to receive voting emails.
Calendars: Voters also have access to voting alerts and calendar reminders for their state.
Social media: Voters can also follow FVAP on social media to tune in to Facebook Live events, absentee voting best practices and more.