By Col. Dave Hall (USAG-Yongsan)July 2, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Voting is the most important right we have as citizens of a democracy. For those of us overseas, it doesn't matter how far away we are from the United States, our votes still count.
During a presidential election, when millions of people exercise the right to vote, you might think that your single vote won't make a difference. Even if the candidates you support aren't elected, you've still had a hand in shaping the country's future.
History has proven that one vote can make a huge difference. In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the union. In 1876, one vote put Rutherford B. Hayes into the White House. In 1960, one vote per precinct elected John F. Kennedy. Nationally, Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by just over 114,000 votes. In a country of dozens of millions, that's a slim margin. So, your vote does count.
At Yongsan, we're bringing the voting message to the community through several venues. This past week was Overseas Voting Registration Week, the first of three non-partisan voter registration drives you'll see here and at military installations around the world. The Yongsan area Girl Scouts kicked it off Saturday by helping shoppers at the Main Exchange complete their requests for absentee ballot. Today, during our July Fourth celebration, the Veterans of Foreign Wars will offer the same service at their booth.
Armed Forces Voters Week will be held Aug. 31 - Sept. 7, and our local chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity will be assisting with setting up registration drives. The fraternity has already held eight separate voter drives, registering over 200 people.
The last event is Absentee Voting Week Oct. 12-18. This all leads up to making sure you are registered and have sent in your absentee ballot before the Nov. 4 general election.
The key document here is the Registration and Absentee Ballot Request-Federal Post Card Application (Standard Form 76a). It is a postage-free postcard, printed and distributed by the Federal Voting Assistance Program for use by absentee voters.
Don't wait to send it! The web site www.fvap.gov has links and instructions on filling out the registration card, and it's a simple process. Or, better yet, get in touch with your unit voting assistance officer for more personalized assistance.
There is still time to make your vote count. Regardless of your political views, exercise this most important right.