You decide 2006: Register to vote before it's too late Published Nov. 2, 2006 By Master Sgt. Eugene Bird 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs ALTUS AFB, Okla. -- Time is growing short for military members and their families to register for absentee voting in the November elections. If you are an Airman or spouse of an Airman at Altus Air Force Base, but your legal residence isn't Oklahoma, you should seek out your unit voting representative to register to vote by an absentee ballot. Finding one's voting representative is as easy as calling the base operator. Operators have a list of the voting representatives for each unit. Installation voting officers are listed on the Altus AFB website. The unit voting representative can assist you in filling out and mailing a postage-free Federal Post Card Application. The applicant sends the FPCA to the county clerk in the county and state of one's legal residence. The clerk's address can be found in a handbook that was provided to each unit voting representative. Depending on one's state, the card might have to be notarized at the Legal office or signed by a military officer or NCO. The county clerk returns the absentee voter a postcard acknowledging receipt of the registration. Some time before the election, (typically 30 to 60 days - the amount of time depends on the particular state), the clerk mails the ballot to the absentee voter. The voter should carefully study the instructions, promptly fill out the ballot and mail it back. While some states send absentee ballots year after year, absentee voters can ensure they are registered by sending an FPCA every year. One piece of information that is sometimes overlooked on the FPCA is an explanation of why one needs to register as an absentee in Block 6, "Remarks." Unit voting representative handbooks list statements that will be effective under the laws of particular states. For example, an Iowa resident who is nervous they won't be able to vote because he will be deployed from Altus AFB could write, "To the best of my belief, I will be outside the continental United States and unable to vote and return an absentee ballot by normal mail before the deadline. I request a special absentee ballot." And what if an absentee voter doesn't receive the ballot in time? Unit voting representative can provide the deadlines to mail completed ballots for each state and provide an empty "write-in" ballot. The candidates names for the election can often be found on the Internet. The write-in ballot can then be used to record one's choices for each elected office. On Nov. 7, Airmen and their spouses who are U.S. citizens will help elect 33 senators, 435 representatives and 37 state governors. There will also be thousands of other state and local office elections each year. See www.fvap.gov for more information.