Military and Overseas Citizens Information
The federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and conforming state legislation cover active duty members of the US armed forces, the merchant marine, spouses and dependents of all, and US citizens residing overseas. They may apply for voter registration and for absentee ballots with a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) which may be obtained from a Federal Assistance Officer (VAO) or at www.fvap.gov, the web site of the Federal Assistance Program. Absentee requests from these voters will be effective for all elections through the next regularly scheduled general election.
UOCAVA voters may also use the Florida registration form, notate their Military status, and the same privileges of the FPCA would apply. Military voters residing within the county in which they wish to register should use the Florida Registration Application and indicate their military status, so the supervisor may insure their UOCAVA status when they move out of the county but wish to maintain voting residency.
Overseas voters (those with an APO, FPO or foreign address only, not Hawaii, American Somoa, etc.) may have absentee ballots faxed or emailed.
Ballots can be returned by fax, but not by email, and voter then waives secrecy. However, access to faxed ballots in the elections office is extremely restricted and ballots are immediately placed in secrecy envelopes without handling. Only the Voter’s Certificate, which must be signed and dated, is examined.
Overseas voters who provide an email address will be advised of the races by email when available at least 30 days before an election. We encourage all UOCAVA voters to include their email addresses on any forms or correspondence, and to update them along with mailing addresses whenever they move. The most important thing to remember is to notify the elections office of the voter's registration status. Additional information for UOCAVA voters is available from the Federal Voting Assistance Program, toll-free 1-800-438-8683, fax 1-800-368-8683, and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005 in October 2004, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) may now be used by all absent Uniformed Service voters both inside and outside the continental United States, as well as U.S. citizens residing overseas. This broadens the use of the FWAB, as military voters were previously not allowed to use it when residing inside the country but outside their voting jurisdiction.
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot is basically a back-up or emergency ballot used for the general election in the event that the voter does not receive their requested regular absentee ballot in time for it to be voted and returned to the local election official to be counted. If the voter does not have access to the hard copy, it is available online at the FVAP web site www.fvap.gov.
The second change to the FWAB in the recent law concerns the absentee request deadline. Previously, the UOCAVA voter had to have requested an absentee ballot at least 30 days prior to the election. Now, the request must be received at least 30 days before the general election or before the deadline established by the state, whichever is later.
It is vitally important for voters to request absentee ballots as early as possible, the beginning of each year is advisable. Equally important is to keep the local election official’s office apprised of any address changes once a request is made. Absentee ballots that are Returned Undeliverable to the elections office because of a bad address automatically cancel the voter’s absentee request, and the voter must make a new request providing the correct address.
An overseas voter may request, not earlier than 180 days before a general election, a state write-in absentee ballot from the supervisor of elections in the county of registration. For the 2008 General Election that date is May 9, 2008. In the request, the voter must indicate that due to military or other contingencies that preclude normal mail delivery, the voter cannot vote an absentee ballot during the normal absentee voting period. In completing the ballot, the overseas voter may designate his or her choice by writing in the name of the candidate or by writing in the name of a political party, in which case the ballot must be counted for the candidate of that political party, if there is such a party candidate on the ballot.
(see section 101.6951, Florida Statutes)
An individual or accompanying family member who has been discharged or separated from the uniformed services, Merchant Marine, or from employment outside the territorial limits of the United States, after the book closing for an election pursuant to section 97.055, Florida Statutes, who is otherwise qualified, may register to vote in such election at the office of the supervisor of elections until 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before that election. Such persons must produce sufficient documentation showing evidence of qualifying for the late registration pursuant to this section.
(see section 97.0555, Florida Statutes)