Facebook will push out information to voters living outside the U.S., including military members and their families as well as other U.S. citizens, over a three-day period starting Tuesday. The social media site will direct people to the Federal Voting Assistance Program website for information on how to vote by absentee ballot.
Facebook’s effort, from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15, is part of a larger voting campaign being run by Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
Federal Voting Assistance Program, or FVAP, is a non-partisan government program administered by the Defense Department, designed to provide information, resources and tools to make voting easier for troops, family members, and for U.S. citizens living overseas. The site connects directly to all the states' voting offices, with links to forms for submitting voter registration and ballot requests, information on how to submit requests for absentee ballots, how to submit ballots, and deadlines for doing so. It also links to the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, which can be submitted by registered voters who haven’t received their absentee ballot from their local election officials in time to meet the voting deadline.
In this first-time effort, Facebook’s top-of-the-feed notification will go to people on Facebook who are voting age, who have marked their home country as the U.S., but it’s believed their physical location is outside the U.S., said Kevin McAlister, spokesman for Facebook. The Federal Voting Assistance Program estimates there are about 2.9 million U.S. citizens living overseas who are eligible to vote.
Facebook’s title for the notification is “Voting from outside the US?” But military members and their eligible voting family members who are living in the U.S. can also find resources on the website to help them vote by absentee ballot if they are stationed another state or jurisdiction away from their normal voting district.
McAlister said the larger group of military members and their family members voting by absentee ballot in the U.S. are getting the Facebook voting campaign information aimed at the general population. The military and overseas voters feature is also being included in Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Overseas military and family members also have access to the free expedited mail service for their ballot from overseas, and tracking of their absentee ballot.
This means that each voted ballot dropped off at a military post office overseas will receive the Label 11-DoD, automatically giving that ballot expedited delivery. Make sure you keep that part of the label with the tracking number that allows you to track your ballot.
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.