REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- With the presidential and national elections taking place in November, it is important that citizens are informed about their candidates as well as the ways to properly register to vote.
The Army kicked off the 2016 voting season Nov. 4 for Soldiers and their families around the world to learn how to register. At the Department of Defense level, the Federal Voting Assistance Program makes online registration, absentee ballot and detailed voting information available.
"Your vote is your voice as an American citizen," said Sgt. 1st Class Catherine A. Dulay, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command voting assistance officer. "It is your opportunity to be heard, to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions and to have a say in important issues that affect your community.
"On Election Day, every vote matters," she added. "With a government elected by its citizens, and that effects every aspect of our lives from schools to health care to homeland security, voting is an important right in our society. By voting, you are making your voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the government should operate."
This year the national election will be Nov. 8. In Alabama, the presidential and state primaries will be March 1. In Colorado, the presidential and state primaries will be June 28. For other states visit the FVAP website at www.fvap.gov.
The U.S. Constitution and its amendments state that suffrage cannot be denied on grounds of race, color, sex or for citizens 18 years or older.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
Election Day in the United States occurs on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date is Nov. 2, and the latest possible date is Nov. 8.
For federal offices of president, vice president and Congress, Election Day occurs only in even-numbered years. Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four. Elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are held every two years; all representatives serve two-year terms and are up for election every two years, while senators serve six-year terms, staggered so that one-third of Senators are elected in any given general election.
Terms for those elected begin in January the following year; the president and vice president are sworn in on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
"We, as citizens of the free world may take it for granted and fail to recognize that voting is at the heart of democracy," said Kum Cha Bertling, USASMDC/ARSTRAT G-1 Soldier and Family Program manager. "It is surprising to see how large numbers of people in America never vote during the election years. Common excuses are, 'nobody cares about my vote; or I am only one person, it really doesn't matter whether I vote or not.'
"Excuse me, please," she continued. "Yes, your vote does count and every vote count starts at the first one cast."
"My challenge to fellow Americans who are eligible to vote is to make 2016 your year to vote in honor of those who defend our freedom, and those who made the ultimate sacrifices," Bertling added. "Lastly, remember, you matter to America, and our armed forces who are fighting on your behalf to protect the rights and privilege to vote as an American citizen."
To learn more about voting information, go to the FVAP website and the Army Human Resources Command website at www.hrc.army.mil/tagd/voting. You can also visit Army social media sites on voting at www.facebook.com/armyvoting, and at www.twitter.com/USArmyvoting.