Primaries Are Coming Up; Register for Absentee Ballots Now

By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

It’s finally 2016, and it’s going to be a big year. In just 10 short months, Americans are going to vote for a new president. The first primaries to pick party candidates begin next month, so if you haven’t gotten your absentee ballot yet and want one, you’d better start the process now.

A lot of service members are either overseas or stationed away from their home states when elections roll around, so it’s important to register to vote and request your absentee ballot as early as you can. It’s pretty easy to do all at once – all you have to do is fill out a Federal Post Card Application.

Absentee ballots allow service members, civilian employees and their families to vote while stationed overseas. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock

Absentee ballots allow service members, civilian employees and their families to vote while stationed overseas. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock

Officials at the Federal Voting Assistance Program suggest military members send in a FPCA every year.

“Once the election office receives the FPCA, they will send the voter a ballot for every election they’re eligible to vote in,” said FVAP spokeswoman Mandi Richmond.

Each absentee ballot is sent out 45 days prior to your state’s election, so if it doesn’t come to you shortly after you’ve applied for it, it’s likely because your primary isn’t until later in the year. Here’s a list of all the presidential primaries coming up in the next few months:

February:
9th: New Hampshire
20th: South Carolina (Republican only)
27th: South Carolina (Democrat only)

March:
1st: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia
5th: Louisiana
8th: Idaho (Republican only), Michigan, Mississippi
13th: Puerto Rico
15th: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio
22nd: Arizona

April:
5th: Wisconsin
19th: New York
26th: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

Many primaries fall later in the year. To find when your state’s is, click here, and pull up your state in the drop-down box on the top left of the page.

Army Spc. Kyle Wagner, a resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, fills out an absentee ballot for the 2012 presidential election. Army photo by Spc. Michael Gault

Army Spc. Kyle Wagner, a resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, fills out an absentee ballot for the 2012 presidential election. Army photo by Spc. Michael Gault

Once you’ve sent in your FPCA and get your absentee ballot from the state, officials urge you to send it back immediately since mail-in times can vary. States have differing deadlines on when the ballots have to be in their hands, too, so it’s best to not hesitate.

If you still have some questions or need help with your FPCA, you can contact your service branch’s Voter Assistance Office using one of the following links: Army | Navy | Marine Corps | Air Force

If you’re a military spouse, you are also covered under the same law that protects military members’ absentee voting rights. Learn more about that here. More absentee voting registration questions can be answered here.

We have a big election year up ahead, folks, so if you haven’t requested your absentee ballot yet, get on it now!

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