Military absentee voters who are registered to vote in Georgia should be aware of the deadlines for voting in the Dec. 6 runoff for the U.S. Senate seat between the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, who is seeking his first full term, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

If you haven’t already mailed your absentee ballot, there’s still time. To vote in the Georgia runoff election, you must have already been registered. You can check on your registration status at Georgia’s My Voter Page. If you are registered to vote and had requested an absentee ballot for the November 2022 general election, you should automatically receive an absentee ballot for the Dec. 6 runoff.

But you can also request an absentee ballot for the runoff even if you didn’t request one previously.

  • You must request your absentee ballot by Nov. 28. You can do that electronically with the Federal Post Card Application, which you can download on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. You can receive the ballot by electronic transmission, so be sure to include your email address. You can also use Georgia’s My Voter Page to find your county election office’s email address and send the request for the ballot. With the limited amount of time, you should request the ballot be delivered to you electronically.
  • New this year: Military and overseas Georgia absentee voters may have already cast a vote in the runoff. Because the Georgia runoff election on Dec. 6 comes just a month after the general election, officials sent out a “ranked choice” runoff ballot along with the general election absentee ballot to ensure those voters got runoff ballots as soon as possible in case one was required. If voters chose to do so, they could cast their ballot for a runoff election, ranking their preferred choices of candidates and sending the ranked choice ballot in a separate envelope.
  • The runoff ballots have now been updated, so any military or overseas voter who hasn’t sent in the ranked choice ballot can still send that ballot or request the new runoff ballot, which looks like a regular ballot. If you already sent in the ranked choice ballot, that will count. Both are valid.

The voting rights of military and overseas citizen voters are protected under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, and they’re commonly known as UOCAVA voters. This applies to U.S. citizens living overseas and to military personnel and their families anywhere in the United States or across the globe who are stationed or deployed away from their home voting district.

In Georgia, UOCAVA voters are the only absentee voters who are allowed to receive a ballot electronically from their election officials. But voted absentee ballots must be downloaded and mailed to the local Georgia election official where they are registered.

Georgia has special rules for UOCAVA voters that allow ballots to be counted if they are postmarked by election day, Dec. 6, and received by 5 p.m. on the third day after the election, Dec. 9.

Use express mail

Military members and their eligible dependents overseas can still use the free express mail Label 11-DoD that was available during the general election cycle, said Air Force Lt. Col. Amy Oliver, a spokeswoman for the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

This label, which has been available since the beginning of September, provides free express mail service to your election official for your absentee ballot. You’ll need to take advantage of that free express mail from overseas because of the shorter time window.

You can request to have a Prepaid Mail Label 11-DoD applied to your absentee ballot at overseas Military Postal Office locations — APO and FPO addresses. Keep part of the tracking label to track your absentee ballot through the U.S. Postal Service.

UOCAVA voters can also send their ballots by diplomatic pouch through their U.S. embassy.

UOCAVA voters have another option. If you haven’t received your absentee ballot for the runoff election, download the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, fill it in and mail it to your local Georgia election official.

If you receive the absentee ballot from your election official after you’ve mailed the FWAB, officials advise to go ahead and vote that ballot and mail it, too; your vote won’t be counted twice, and all ballots are authenticated.

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.

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