News: Voting abroad is easy for deployed service members
Story by Spc. Alex Amen
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Service members can’t pick their squad leader, and definitely can’t pick their commander, but this year, U.S. service members all around the world have the opportunity to pick their commander in chief.
For service members abroad, there are many resources available.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kimberly Wilson, a human resource manager with 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, helps facilitate military voting at Bagram Airfield as a voting assistance representative.
“The turnout has been great,” said Wilson. “We were able to register 868 people to make sure they’re eligible to vote and receive their ballot.”
Helping service members and civilians vote has become a passion for Wilson.
“I took the challenge on to ensure everyone had an opportunity to vote,” added Wilson.
Wilson has a table in the BAF post office, answering questions and helping people register to vote, but soldiers don’t need to head to the post office to get help voting.
Military members abroad should have a voting assistance officer in their chain of command.
“We try to assist soldiers who may not know how to go about the voting process,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Samuel Weber, the executive officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and their voting assistance officer.
“I can help do the research for soldiers,” said Weber. “Maybe they don’t know what their state laws are, or if they’re even eligible to vote. We have nearly 300 people here in the brigade headquarters, and nearly all of them have registered to vote.”
Weber is trying to get everyone involved.
“I have a lot of interaction with the brigade and battalion staff, and I try to talk to the junior soldiers and ask them if they’ve voted,” said Weber. “If they don’t know how, I’ll give them a brochure to educate them on the voting assistance process.”
The military has taken steps to make the process as simple as possible.
“Absentee ballot voting is two pages, with very simple, very clear instructions,” said Weber. “It usually only takes me a few minutes to assist (soldiers)."
“I think it’s everybody’s duty to vote. We fight for that freedom,” added Weber. “We as soldiers have an obligation to vote and pick our commander in chief.”
Nov. 6 is right around the corner, and people at home will be lining up at voting booths across the nation to make their voices heard. In Afghanistan, service members have the opportunity to participate in the most important function of our democracy: to make sure their voices are also recognized. Be sure to vote before it’s too late.