LVIV, Ukraine -- Soldiers of Task Force Illini, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard, may be overseas, but they still have an opportunity to get involved with the elections back home by casting an absentee ballot online or through the mail.
“Voting is one of our fundamental constitutional rights. It’s a central way we can hold our government accountable and participate in the political process,” said Task Force Deputy Staff Judge Advocate Capt. Jacob Smith of Champaign, Illinois.
Because mail can take 2-3 weeks to reach its U.S. destination from Ukraine, Task Force Illini Soldiers completed and mailed their ballots by the last week of September.
“This wasn’t my first experience voting, but it was my first time using an absentee ballot. Other than some confusion with my county clerk the process was easy,” said Information Technology Specialist Spc. Isaac Stevenson.
The staff judge advocate team made sure all Soldiers were informed of their options to cast a ballot.
“We’re somewhat limited in the political activities we can engage in. Voting is one key activity we can participate in. It’s a good thing that we stay out of politics- people have more trust in the military as an institution,” said Smith. “We serve under different administrations and political parties, but at the end of the day we serve the people of the United States.”
The deployed service members obtained their absentee ballot through the online Federal Voting Assistance program portal. Soldiers could also use the site to register to vote if they had not done so already.
“The best way to create change and make your voice heard is to vote,” said Stevenson.
Task Force Illini is the command element of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, which is responsible for training, advising and mentoring the Ukrainian cadre at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv, Ukraine in order to improve Armed Forces Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities.