WASHINGTON -- Service members and citizens overseas should participate in local off-season elections, the director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program said here today.
"I think it's always important for us to exercise our right to vote," Polli Brunelli said. "We've seen from past elections that our uniformed services members and overseas citizens vote in large numbers. They're engaged in the absentee-voting process, and some actually vote in person as well."
Just because this is not a presidential election year does not mean this election is not important, she added. Many elections will decide state and local issues.
Brunelli said it's important for absentee voters to look at all of the issues, state and local, which concern them in their state of legal voting residence. But it is up to each individual voter to decide what issues are important and to research the candidates.
"(It's) a little bit easier than it used to be in the old days, where we found our overseas citizens were mostly getting information on elections from their friends and family members," Brunelli said. "They would either send them local newspapers or tell them what the candidates stood for and what the issues were."
The FVPA Web site provides multiple links to states' Web sites, state associations, political party sites, and other organizations where voters can find a plethora of information. News organizations can also be accessed via the Web, she said.
Voter-registration and absentee ballot-request forms are readily available as well.
Brunelli said it takes research to cast an effective vote. "It's incredibly important to be informed about these issues," she said. "An informed voter is a good voter. It shows civic responsibility in that regard when you're informed."
"The (Federal Post Card Application) is the easiest way to request registration and an absentee ballot," Brunelli said. "And the easiest way to get the form is from voting-assistance officers at military installations. And at overseas activities, local organizations provide them. Embassies and consulates also provide them. There are Democrats and Republicans abroad who are overseas citizens who stock these forms. And the forms are also available on our Web site, the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Web site."
Military members or other citizens overseas can contact their unit or installation voting-assistance officer, call the FVPA, or send an e-mail via the FVPA Web site.