WASHINGTON (Jan. 27, 2015) – Earlier this month, Soldiers Army-wide were provided with electronic or paper Federal Post Card Applications, known as FPCA.
Remembering to fill out and return the FPCA is especially important if Soldiers and spouses have changed duty stations, said Rachel Gilman, Army voting action officer, Soldiers Program Branch, Adjutant General Directorate, Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The FPCA alerts local election officials of the move and is a way for Soldiers to register using an absentee ballot, she said, adding that the form is quick and easy to fill out.
Every odd-numbered year is considered an off-year for voting since it’s not a presidential or mid-term election year. Historically, off-year elections draw fewer voters to the polls.
So with the November elections over, why should Soldiers think about voting now?
This year there are several gubernatorial races, mayoral elections and even some special elections for Congress, Gilman said. At the local level, there are county and city elections involving school boards, city council and planning commission members, county prosecutors, judges and so on, depending on the location.
“Local elections are just as important as major elections,” Gilman said. Soldiers stationed far from home have family members in their hometowns and they themselves may want to someday return there. Elections can impact a lot of important community issues.
The Army knows it’s important that Soldiers be provided voting information, she said, so in addition to alerting Soldiers about the FPCA every January, Soldiers serving overseas are given a second FPCA alert every July, since they will be voting absentee and since many moves typically occur over the summer.
Soldiers who have misplaced their Jan. 15 FPCA notice can get one by visiting https://www.fvap.gov/r3.
Since every state administers its own voter registration differently, Gilman encourages Soldiers to visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, website at www.fvap.gov. A map for requesting absentee ballots in home states can be found at http://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/registration-ballots. Soldiers can click on their state and territory to get detailed information about registration and elections.
The FVAP site also gives voters the option to electronically request information from local election officials, Gilman said.
“The Army Voting Assistance Program operates year-round, since elections are always happening,” Gilman said.
Around the Army, the FVAP is owned by commanders. “There are unit voting assistance officers who’ve been appointed and trained. They are ready to assist Soldiers and family members,” said Gilman, noting that besides accessing the FVAP website, Soldiers may instead choose to see their unit voting assistance officers.
Gilman said this year’s FVAP slogan, “Be absent, but accounted for!” serves as a reminder that Soldiers can make their voices heard not just in Washington, but in their local communities as well.