Use Your Vote

“A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.” ~Bill Vaughn

That, my friends, is an indictment of our military men, women and the families that support them. As I’ve mentioned previously, advocacy comes in a myriad of forms. The most basic, most fundamental, and most important is our ability and execution of our individual vote.

We are now about a month away from an historic election, where every vote will count. On Nov. 6, we will decide who wins the presidency, whether or not control of the Senate and House changes hands, and who will be governor in almost a dozen states. The votes of military and veteran families are likely to be the key in a number of what are considered “swing” states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado, to name a few.

We owe it to ourselves and our nation to carefully consider the candidates, their positions and what our vote means to the future of our country.

Making The Effort

For military families, it’s not always the easiest thing to even get to a ballot booth. Different states have different voting requirements, particularly the dates by which you must register and the requirements for absentee voting. It’s generally recommended that you be registered to vote at least three months prior to an election.

If you aren’t certain of where and how you will vote, make it an immediate priority! Your best starting location for information is the Federal Voting Assistance Project (www.fvap. gov). With three clicks of the mouse, I can tell what the important dates for the November election are. Another two clicks and I can start the process of registering for the election. Belay my last … THIS IS EASY EVERYONE!!!

Mailing dates to send your absentee ballots from Iraq, Afghanistan and aboard ship are Nov. 9. For those elsewhere overseas, it’s Nov. 16. And if you are in CONUS, Oct. 30.


How does one decide which candi- dates to vote for? You can gather some information by reading newspapers or watching local TV stations. But to know specific positions each of the candidates have on military-specific issues, you’ll need to dig deeper.

Probably the best resource related to this topic is the Military Officer’s Association of America (MOAA) vot- ing guides: MOAA does a great job tracking the issues that matter to military families.

Take the time to visit the candidates’ websites and get a feel for where they have come from, what they are about, and where they want to take the country. Go to the political events (not in uniform) and ask the candidates questions that are important to you.

There is a history among some military men and women, as well as their families, of remaining strictly nonpartisan. This has sometimes ex- tended to making the decision not to vote. My opinion is this: You have earned those stripes and chevrons and oak leaf clusters. Our families, through the deployments and time spent away, have more than earned the right to participate in our coun- try’s election.

I would never have the gall to tell you who to vote for. But I will emphatically say that you have to the duty to participate and vote this November. Make it happen.

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