New York Complies with Federal Law to get Servicemembers their Ballots Earlier than Ever Before
Story by: Lt. Col. Richard Goldenberg - Joint Force Headquarters
Dated: Wed, Oct 6, 2010
The Department of Defense Voting Assistance Guide is available online at www.FVAP.gov or on facebook.
ALBANY -- The New York State Board of Elections, in complying with the MOVE Act (Military & Overseas Voters Empowerment), has established a new webpage to allow military and overseas voters to obtain their general election ballots by email in addition to the existing fax and mail options.
For National Guard members to establish an account, visit www.elections.state.ny.us and click on the link for "Military & Overseas Voters." Once your account is established, you will be notified when your ballot is ready and how you will receive it.
By obtaining their ballot by email, military voters can receive their absentee ballots earlier than they ever have before. This will also allow more time for the ballot to be mailed back to New York for the election. Military and overseas absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than November 1st and received by the appropriate local county board of elections by November 15th to be counted.
The State Board of Elections, in its efforts to insure armed forces personnel and U.S. citizens living abroad receive their ballots in enough time to be counted, has been working with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the Department of Defense, the Overseas Vote Foundation and private vendor, Scytl, to improve timeliness and opportunities for military and overseas voters to receive their ballot and submit their votes in adequate time to be counted in the election.
The military also offers training for the Federal Voting Assistance Program to help Soldiers vote via absentee ballots in upcoming elections.
The program is designed to train Voting Assistance Officers (VAOs) at military bases worldwide, according to program officials, who said thousands of VAOs will help 6 million uniformed and overseas citizens vote absentee.
Erin St. Pierre instructed VAOs in the details of absentee voting during the training at Fort Rucker, Ala. as part of FVAP’s campaign to help VAOs worldwide. She explained that some people believe absentee votes do not count, but said they are misinformed.
"As long as it is done successfully, absentee votes will count," St. Pierre said.
"Our goal is to bring the military and overseas citizen absentee voting success rate to that of the general public," said Bob Carey, federal voting assistance program director.
When voters miss deadlines or don’t sign forms correctly, "that’s where the problems come in," St. Pierre added.
It is not just Soldiers who need to know how the absentee voting process works but spouses and voting-age Family members need to be aware as well. It’s up to the voting assistance officers to educate them, she said. Family members can use the same forms and have access to FVAP officials to answer their questions.
Soldiers who don’t know who their VAOs are should ask their first sergeants.
Military and other overseas voters may call the New York State Board of Elections at 1-518-474-1953 or send email questions to INFO@elections.state.ny.us.
For more information about the Federal Voting Assistance Program or help with absentee voting, call FVAP at (800) 438-8683.