Military and Overseas - FAQs


Federal law – specifically, the Uniformed and Overseas Civilian Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986, as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 – entitles certain military and overseas voters (“UOCAVA voters”) to special procedures that help them overcome the challenges of voting from far away.

Additionally, Virginia has enacted the Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act, which affords further protections to such voters under state law.

Am I a UOCAVA voter?

A UOCAVA voter is

  • a member of the uniformed services*
    • who is on active duty, and
    • will be away from Fairfax County on Election Day; or
  • the spouse or dependent(s) of such an active duty military voter,
    • who will also be absent from Fairfax County due to the service of the military voter; or
  • a civilian who
    • resides either temporarily or permanently overseas, and
    • whose current or most recent residence inside the United States was in Fairfax County.

* “uniformed services” includes U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Virginia National Guard.

Are you an UOCAVA voter? If so, use the FPCA.

If you are a member of the US uniformed services who is on active duty, and will be away from your legal residence on Election Day; or the spouse or dependent(s) of such an active duty military voter, who will be absent due to the service of the military voter, you get special protections by using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).  Citizens that meet these criteria can go to www.fvap.gov and complete an FPCA.  Return the FPCA to the Fairfax Office of Elections, or your local elections office, if not a Fairfax voter, to get these federal protections.  

Can I register or  vote in Fairfax County if stationed away Election Day?

You must be registered to vote in the locality you consider your legal residence.  Use your legal residence address even if you do not currently live in your legal residence due to military service.  If Fairfax County is your legal residence, you can register until October 15, and vote in all County elections whether or not you live in Fairfax currently.  If you or your spouse or dependents choose to register to vote in Fairfax County, you may not also register to vote in the place where you are stationed.

You can register to vote and request an absentee ballot with a single form, the Federal Post Card Application (“FPCA”). You may send in your FPCA by mail, fax, hand delivery, as an e-mail attachment.

If you need to vote using the back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (“FWAB”), your FWAB may also act as a voter registration application.

I’m a civilian, living outside the United States. Can I register to vote in Fairfax County?

If you last lived in Fairfax County before moving overseas, yes.  Use the last address you had in Fairfax County – but in order to vote in state or local elections, you must show that you are employed overseas, or are the spouse or dependent of someone employed overseas, otherwise you may only vote in federal races (President, US Senate and Congressional races).

You can register to vote and request an absentee ballot with a single form, the Federal Post Card Application (“FPCA”). You may send the form in by mail, fax, hand delivery, or as an e-mail attachment.

Do UOCAVA voters get a special exemption from the deadline to register to vote?

Special registration deadlines apply to military and dependents in certain circumstances. 

Military and dependents may register to vote in person, after the registration deadline (even on Election Day), if you

  • appear in person at the Office of Elections to fill out a voter registration application; and
  • are
    • a member of the uniformed services on active duty, or spouse or dependent residing with the servicemember, or
    • temporarily living outside the United States; and
  •  normally absent from Fairfax County,
    • or were normally absent from Fairfax County but returned during the 28 days prior to Election Day (on or after October 9th); or
  • discharged from uniformed service the 60 days prior to Election Day.

Do UOCAVA voters get a special exemption from the deadline to request an absentee ballot?

No.

How do UOCAVA voters request an absentee ballot?

You may request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (“FPCA”). (The FPCA acts as a voter registration application as well, but you may use it to apply for an absentee ballot even if you are already registered to vote.)  You may send your FPCA by mail, fax, hand-delivery or e-mail attachment.

Using the FPCA will tell the Office you get special protections.  You are encouraged to send in an FPCA every year to keep your voter registration information and address up to date. 

I’m worried I won’t receive my absentee ballot in time to mark it and return it in time to count. What should I do?

You may vote using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (“FWAB”) as a back-up ballot. Complete the FWAB as directed, mail it back, and it will count just like any other ballot if your regular ballot is not received back in time. (FWABs cannot be returned by fax or e-mail.)

In order to use a FWAB, you must have previously requested an absentee ballot. However, the Federal Post Card Application (“FPCA”) constitutes such a request form. You may mail your FWAB and FPCA simultaneously.

You should receive your absentee ballot if you order it early enough; as a UOCAVA voter you may ask to get your ballot by email or facsimile (though it cannot be returned except by mail.)   If you receive your regular absentee ballot and mail it back so it is received before the 7PM Election Day deadline, we will count the regular absentee ballot rather than the FWAB.


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