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Vandenberg voting assistance officers help Airmen exercise their right to vote

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Below are a list of ways Airmen can ensure they have every opportunity to exercise their right to vote:

· Members of the Armed Forces on active duty and their voting-age dependents may register to vote by absentee ballot in their home state through the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act, or UOCAVA, a federal law designed to standardize and simplify the voter registration process for eligible voters.

· New California-resident voters (civil servants) not covered by the UOCAVA are encouraged to contact the Office of the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters in Santa Maria at (805) 346-8370 or in Lompoc at (805) 737-7705. More information about registering as a California voter is also available on the web at www.sb-democracy.com

· Registering to vote by absentee ballot is very simple, fast, and free for UOCAVA voters. The Federal Post-Card Application (Standard Form 76) usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete and mail to the individual's state registrar of voters with the help of DoD's Voting Assistance Guide. The SF-76 application and the Voting Guide are both available on the internet at www.fvap.gov. Voters may also obtain the SF-76 and Voting Assistance Guide from their unit's voting assistance officer.

· UOCAVA voters should mail their SF-76 application postcard at least 30 days before an election in which they plan to vote. The state registrar will send the applicant a registration confirmation by return mail. Absentee ballots are usually mailed to UOCAVA absentee voters at least 30 days before the election. Your state must receive your voted ballot by the close of the state's polls on election day in order to be counted.

· The best place to find information about election dates and special elections occurring in your state is www.fvap.gov. By registering to vote through the UOCAVA process, voters should receive an absentee ballot for all local, state and federal elections for the next two calendar years. However, UOCAVA voters are encouraged to submit a new SF-76 whenever their address changes to ensure their absentee ballot reaches them.

· UOCAVA-registered voters who do not receive their official absentee ballot in time to vote in a specific election may still be able to vote in that election using an SF-186 Federal Write-In Ballot. States should only count this ballot when a UOCAVA voter has timely submitted an SF-76 application (at least 30 days prior to the election).

· Deploying Airmen are reminded that they must contact their Unit Voting Officer as a part of their pre-deployment checklist.

Vandenberg's Voting Assistance Program, or VAP, is available to assist UOCAVA voters with the absentee voting registration process. The installation voting assistance officer can be reached at (805) 605-6207. Also, each unit on Vandenberg has a Voting Assistance Officer to help with voting registration. More information about Vandenberg's VAP, including a list of Unit Voting Officers and FAQ's, is available by clicking here.