The November 2018 midterm elections are rapidly approaching, if you are a military member or spouse living away from your state home of residence, you need to prepare now if you want to vote in it.
Register To Vote
If you aren't registered to vote, do it now!
You must register to vote with the election commission in your state, all federal and state elections are run by the states themselves, and no two states run their elections exactly the same, so contacting your state or local election office is the best way to find out about your state’s unique election rules.
Even though every state does things differently, the basic steps to vote are the same almost everywhere.
Every state except North Dakota requires you to register to vote.
All states have absentee voting (the ability to vote when you are away from home).
Most states assign you a specific polling place, or voting location based on the location of your home of residence, based on this you may vote for different people than your neighbors a few blocks away who may reside in a different voting district.
If you need to register to vote, visit Vote.gov. This website is an official government website that will give you instructions on how to register in your home state. 37 states let you register to vote online, this usually can be done in a matter of minutes.
If you're stationed away from home and live in a state that doesn't let you register to vote online, don't worry. All states participate in the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) program. This 30 year old program allows you to register to vote, and complete your ballot via regular mail.
You can get more help at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website
The program is available to military members and their families.
Once You Are Registered - Vote!
You've heard it before, and you will hear it again, "if you don't vote - you can't complain!" Voting is, after all, one of those rights you joined the military to protect, so you really should step up to the plate and spend 10 minutes of your busy day to vote.
Once you are registered to vote you need to request a ballot to be able to vote in the election. The best way to do this is online at the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website. This website will let you check to see if you are registered to vote and link to each state's website where you can request a ballot. Some states even allow you to fill out a ballot and email it back to them.
There are deadlines to register to vote and to submit your ballot, these vary by state, and also depend on where you are stationed. The Federal Voting Assistance Program's website lists all the deadlines, as well as provides links to service-specific voting assistance offices.
Why This Election Is Important
Well, all elections are important, but midterm elections usually don't get as much attention as the presidential election, so far fewer people vote in them. However, midterm elections can have a big impact.
This year, 1/3 of the Senate and all 435 members of the House of Representatives will be up for election. Governors will be elected in 36 states and three territories, and in most states your state and local lawmakers will also be up for election. Several states also have initiatives on their ballots including:
- legalizing marijuana
- banning fracking
- restricting abortion
- expanding gambling
- expanding property tax breaks for surviving spouses of disabled veterans
- raising taxes to pay for schools and roads, etc