Web site provides information on voting options

A new Web site being developed by the Department of Defense will provide information on electronic voting options for servicemembers and other U.S. citizens living overseas.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program launched the new Integrated Voting Alternative Site at www.fvap.gov, said Maj. Harry Turasz, U.S. Army, Europe voting action officer.

The IVAS includes information from all 55 states and territories on the various electronic ballot request and delivery alternatives available to U.S. citizens living overseas and covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Major Turasz said. He added that IVAS will be regularly updated to reflect changes to state laws.

The by-mail ballot system is still the preferred, and most used, voting method for troops and citizens overseas, but it isn’t always available. So DOD developed electronic alternatives starting in 1990.

Different states have different electronic voting options, but they almost all allow overseas citizens to use fax machines for at least part of the voting process, noted Scott Wiedmann, deputy director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

About 30 states offer blank ballot delivery by fax, and 24 states allow citizens to return ballots by fax.

Ballots cannot be filled out or submitted online because of security concerns, but IVAS has an electronic Federal Post Card Application – the form citizens use to request an absentee ballot – that can be filled out and submitted to state officials via a secure site. State officials can then post a blank ballot to the same site, and the citizen can print it out and mail it back when completed.

“Where states are able to participate, either through their state laws or procedures, to use electronic capabilities, we encourage that,” Mr. Wiedmann said. “That helps to cut down part of the process.”

State governments are responsible for the voting process, and DOD does not register any voters or send in ballots. The department simply acts as an intermediary, Mr. Wiedmann explained, ensuring citizens covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

This year, 33 senators, 435 members of the House of Representatives, 37 state governors and thousands of state and local officials will be elected, Major Turasz noted.

To reach Major Turasz or other garrison-level voting action officers, choose from this list of numbers:
USAREUR Voting Action Officer, 379-9712 or 06202-80-9712
IMA-Europe, 370-9021 or 06221-57-9021
USAG Baumholder, 485-6662 or 06783-6-6662
USAG Heidelberg, 373-6800 or 06221-57-6334
USAG Kaiserslautern, 489-7199 or 0631-536-6513(Courtesy of USAREUR Public Affairs)