There still may be time for you to vote absentee if you're away from your home voting district — whether you're overseas or in the U.S. — but act quickly.
A number of states allow ballot requests up until the last minute, and you may even still have time to register to vote. Find details on your state and more voting information on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.
Many states allow you to accomplish some or all of the process electronically, which will be key as Election Day nears. Many states also will count ballots postmarked by Nov. 8 even if they arrive after Election Day.
For example, North Carolina residents have until Monday to complete their registration and request a ballot. The completed ballot must be postmarked by 12 a.m. Tuesday, or sent via email or fax by 7:30 p.m. that day.
If you've requested an absentee ballot and it hasn't arrived, use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot: Download a copy here or get one from your unit's voting assistance officer or installation voting assistance office. FVAP.gov offers details on state ballots and can assist voters with home-district voting information through the "Get My Ballot" links on each state page.
The Military Postal Service Agency has free expedited ballot delivery and tracking for overseas military members and their family members. The local military postal clerk will place the Label 11-DoD on the ballot envelope. You'll be able to track online the whereabouts of your ballot and find out when it was delivered.
Between Sept. 1, when the free delivery from overseas started, and Oct. 31, 44,721 ballots had entered the U.S. Postal Service mail stream from service members and their voting-age family members, according to Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan. That's about 58 percent of the number — 77,322 — that arrived back in U.S. during the same time frame in 2012, the last presidential election, when more service members were deployed.
The number of people deployed to the CENTCOM region declined by more than 75,000 between September 2012 and August 2016, according to DoD spokesman Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson.
Those ballot totals don't include votes sent via fax or email, or those mailed from inside the U.S.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program, run by the Defense Department, provides resources to citizens covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to help them overcome barriers they may experience during the absentee voting process. FVAP officials conducted an analysis recently that showed inexperienced voters who used the FVAP resources were 50 percent more likely to return their absentee ballot to be counted in the 2014 elections.
Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.