YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - Absentee Voting Week began Sept. 27 to raise awareness among U.S. citizens residing outside American borders to return completed absentee voting ballots as quickly as possible.
Absentee Voting Week, which ends Oct. 4, is designed to encourage voters to return completed ballots to their home states, ensuring their vote is counted. Most states began sending ballots to registered voters on Aug. 15.
"Voting is the foundation of our democracy and one of our most fundamental Constitutional Rights," said Brig. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, the Army's senior voting representative, in a statement. "If you choose to vote, complete and return your ballot to your state election office prior to the state's established deadline."
Voters who have not received their absentee ballot by Oct. 2 should use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to guarantee their voice is heard. Overseas voters who are nervous they will not receive ballots in time for the election may also fill out the SF 186 Federal Absentee Write-in Ballot.
"We are here to serve all members of the military, DoD civilians and their family members of voting age," said Sonja S. Goodman, Yongsan Garrison voting assistance officer. "We are having voting drives on Oct. 2 at the Dragon Hill Lodge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Oct. 9 at the October Fall Festival from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m."
The United States Postal Service is also assisting absentee voters this year by providing free express mail to speed ballots to state offices. As part of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October 2009, the service is designed to help U.S. citizens abroad participate in elections.
"Absentee ballots receive free express mail service whether they are brought to the post office or dropped in the mailbox," said Darin M. Jenkins, a postal operations officer at Yongsan. "If the ballot is brought into the office, the sender will receive a receipt allowing them to track it at USPS.gov."
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absence Voting Act, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, created the absentee voting system, allowing servicemembers and government employees overseas the ability to vote.