USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea
- Although Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) won't be able to vote from home, they can rest assured knowing the avy has taken all the appropriate steps to ensure their voices are heard for the upcoming presidential election.
Sending and receiving mail while deployed is very important to Sailors, and the Supply Department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is making an extra effort to ensure mail is delivered as quickly as possible.
"The Navy wants all service members to have an opportunity to vote," said Lt. Christopher Burt from Salt Lake City, Utah. During this voting season, the Department of the Navy (DoN) and Department of Defense (DoD) Military Postal System are providing expedited mail delivery service at no cost to service members to ensure absentee ballots arrive on time. Logistic specialists working in the Ship's Post Office have completed training to ensure they handle and move absentee ballots correctly.
Every dispatched absentee ballot will have an express mail label applied to them. The barcode on the label allows the service member to track the envelope throughout its journey to the United States from the United States Postal Service's website (www.usps.com
). Outgoing mail shipments containing ballots are sorted separately from other mail to ensure they are properly handled by the Postal System. Ballots must arrive at the OCONUS Fleet Mail Center no later than Oct. 27, 2012 in order to reach local election offices in the United States by the election date of Nov. 6, so the Stennis Supply Department is dispatching ballots at every opportunity possible.
"I believe the Navy not only sees voting as an American right, but it puts forth an effort to educate Sailors on the importance of voting," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Brian Harmon, from Richfield, Minn. "After all, it is our future whether we are deployed or not. The opportunity to allow deployed service members the chance to vote is incredible and we have the Navy and the dedication of the Stennis to thank for it."
Stennis' Voting Assistance Officers set up tables outside the mess decks to encourage Sailors to register to vote and mail the forms to their respective states in order to receive ballots. Sailors who coordinate the distribution of mail dedicate up to 10 hours per day for sorting and delivering. In September, 26,000 pounds of mail was sorted and dispatched, more than twice the normal amount.
"It is our duty to get the mail out on time so we can say that our votes counted," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Marcus Parks, from Kansas City, Kansas, Stennis' Postal Division leading petty officer. "It's important that we as individuals have a chance to vote because we are directly affected by the commander in chief. The president ultimately controls whether or not we go on deployments and it's not only our right to vote as military service members, but as citizens of America."
The John C. Stennis Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.