Return ballots, make voices heard
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- As the Nov. 6 general election quickly approaches, service members, civilian employees and their family members stationed overseas are running out of time to send in their absentee ballots.
"The window is closing for individuals to get their ballots in," said Maj. Michael J. Gervasoni, the voting assistance officer for Marine Corps Installations Pacific. "It's important that people take the time to fill out their ballot and follow the instructions to make sure it makes it back to the U.S. in time."
Individuals stationed overseas may feel detached from the issues and candidates in their home states, cities and districts, but that is no excuse for not exercising the right to vote, according to Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, commanding general of MCIPAC.
"I'd like all the service members, civilian employees and family members overseas to remember that our forefathers fought long ago, so that we would have the right to vote and make our voices heard," said Talleri. "Do some research, examine the impacts of issues and positions up for a vote this year, and take advantage of the opportunity to have direct influence on government."
Advances in technology and the availability of information have made it easy for individuals stationed far from their homes to educate themselves on election year issues and candidates in relatively little time.
"Time is such a valuable commodity, especially in the military," said Gervasoni. "However, with the internet, there is so much information available at the click of a mouse. It could be as simple as taking one night off of watching television or playing video games to sit down and pull up candidates' websites and information on referendums and laws up for vote in order to make an informed decision."
It may not seem like a big deal to put off voting while stationed overseas by discounting the effects of local, state and national elections, but it is important to remember the bigger picture when deciding whether or not to exercise one's right to vote.
"We sometimes take the right to vote for granted and forget all the troubles, struggles and heartaches people went through over the years," said Talleri. "From the Revolutionary War to the civil rights and women's suffrage movements, there have been lives lost and massive efforts made throughout our country's history so that, today, we can determine our own future.
"Be a part of the democratic process. The officials elected this year and laws and referendums voted on will have impacts on all Americans, including those stationed overseas. Make getting your ballot in a priority."