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Military Voting: Questions and Answers

Military Voter FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from military voters. Hopefully this can help clarify confusions you may have about the registration and ballot return process!

Click the questions to expand and see the answers.

What is the FPCA and should I be using it?

If you live away from your voting residence due to military orders, then you qualify to use the FPCA, or Federal Post Card Application! This is always the case for folks stationed OCONUS, and it can also apply if you’re stationed CONUS but not where you have legal residency.

Can military members and their partners request ballots for the entire year in advance? Or do we need to request one for each election separately?

Yes they can! When you use the FPCA to register and/or request an absentee ballot, that application covers you for an entire calendar year. Just don’t forget to do it again next year, too!

What’s the difference between absentee and mail-in voting? Which ones do military families use?

Absentee voting is whenever someone is away from their voting residence on Election Day, so they request an absentee ballot instead. In these states, voters have to ask ahead of time to vote absentee. Voters may submit their absentee ballots by mail, fax, or online, depending on state policy.

Mail-in voting is whenever someone submits their ballot through the mail. Some states allow ALL voters to vote this way, while some require voters to request it ahead of time.

Military service members and their families use both types of voting, depending on their state. Most commonly, military families use absentee voting — they’re stationed away from their residence, but they use the FPCA to request an absentee ballot be sent to their mailing address. But some military families vote in states where every voter gets a ballot sent to them electronically or through the mail, regardless of military affiliation. It just depends.

What’s the safest way to submit my absentee or mail-in ballot?

It’s safe to submit your absentee or mail-in ballot by email, fax, or mail. Check with your state to see what forms of ballot return they allow.

When do I need to request my absentee ballot?

It’s never too early to register and request an absentee ballot. Definitely get your requests in at LEAST 46 days before the election – that way you will get your absentee ballot from your election official as early as possible.

My family is stationed overseas right now. Can I still vote in local elections?

Yes, absolutely! No matter where you’re living, you are qualified to vote in every level of elections that happen in your place of legal residence.elections?

My teen is turning 18 this year. Where should they register to vote, our duty station or our family’s state of residence? Where can I get information about military teen voting?

Congrats on turning 18! In collaboration with our partners at NMFA, we launched a website especially for first-time voters like you. Check out MilitaryTeenVoter.org for our easy step-by-step to figuring out where & how to vote.

I mailed in my ballot. How do I know if it actually got counted? How can I track my ballot?

Visit the Vote.org Ballot Tracker Tool to find the link to your state’s online ballot tracking website, or find the phone number for your local election office to call and ask about your ballot’s status.

How do I know if my absentee or mail-in ballot arrived on time?

Find your state’s online ballot tracking website at the Vote.org Ballot Tracker Tool.

What are the new Texas voting laws and how do they impacts military voters?

A new voter ID match law went into effect this election year and it has already had dramatic effects on absentee ballots. To help make sure your vote counts in Texas, we share Advice for Texas Voters in 2022. This blog post explains the new law and provides tips to make sure your ballot is accepted. Read and share: Advice for Absentee Voters in Texas.

Do military ballots actually make a difference in elections?

Definitely! In 2020, there were states where the outcome of the Presidential election came down to military voters. Our votes matter!

Don’t see your question answered? Shoot us an email at info@securefamiliesinitiative.org and we’ll get back to you.

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