It is officially 2016 and election season is here! The first caucus of this important presidential collection are only days away. Voting is your civic responsibility, and so crucial for ensuring a bright future for our nation. However, many of us are far away from the polls we call home, attending colleges out of state or working in another area. That does not mean that our votes do not matter, though, and it is pertinent that we still cast our vote. Voting absentee can be seen as a difficult process, but it is not nearly as hard as it seems, with just a little bit of information.
A big part of voting absentee is timing. Because of the process associated with obtaining an absentee ballot, you must plan many weeks in advance. If you know that you will be voting absentee, you should inquire into an application for the ballot at least three weeks in advance, if not more depending on your location.
When I voted absentee my freshman year of college, I filled out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) through the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which applies to all states, from Maine to Alaska, and everything in between. You should submit the application according to your state’s instructions, which can vary. For most states, your application and subsequent ballot must be mailed to your election official, which in Tennessee, for example, is your local election office for your specific county.
If you are unsure of the timeline of your ballot, you also have the right to a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), which is a little different than the normal ballot, but still allows you to participate in the election process to your fullest ability.
Some states will allow you to request an absentee ballot in person and return it that day, which is perfect if you live in your county during the majority of the year, but will be away on election day. This is regulated on a state-by-state basis as many voting procedures are, thanks to the lovely tenth amendment to our Constitution, among other legislative procedures.
If you are planning to vote absentee, here are four steps to take:
Learn your deadlines
Contact your local election official to receive the ballot
Fill out the received ballot as soon as possible
Return the completed ballot by the indicated date