MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY --
Voting streamers, banners and decorations, a state map and a naming of state flags competition were all signs that this was not going to be an ordinary annual training event.
In a collaborative effort, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command officials sponsored the first voting convention aboard the installation, June 22.
The purpose of the event was to ensure all military personnel, their eligible family members and civilian federal employees are afforded every opportunity to vote, according to 1st Lt. Delaney Bourlakov, voting officer, MCLB Albany.
“Voting is a matter that I believe is dying,” Bourlakov said. “Statistics show that a majority of those that do not vote are under the age of 24. According to Marine Corps statistics, that age demographic is the bulk of the Marine Corps.
“Voting is an example of the freedom we have and something people really take for granted, especially for those who have not traveled (outside the United States),” she added. “(Most people don’t) realize the power of their voice and how (voting) is a chance to use your voice. Voting is an opportunity to say this is what I believe in and this is what I am supporting. It takes everyone to get elected.”
Bourlakov used the recent presidential election as an example.
“This is our commander-in-chief,” she said. “(He) is more than the president, (he) is our ultimate boss and we get a voice in determining who that is.
“The presidential election is not the only time people can vote,” Bourlakov added. “There are state elections (happening) all the time but most people don’t know about it, especially military service members because they are not in their (home) state.
“Your vote does make a difference,” she concluded. “If you want to make a difference, don't wait for someone else to do it for you, become a difference-maker.”
Bourlakov said she and her staff wanted to make voting, which could have been a one-hour slide presentation, into an all-day fun-filled event, giving everyone a chance to participate. The voting staff assisted more than 130 voters and registered nearly 30 new voters.
Throughout the event, voters learned how to register to vote, the significance of the Electoral College and how to navigate through the fvap.gov web site, in a relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere, according to the voting officer.
As each person signed in, they were greeted by a Marine, given a pin and directed to a state map located on a wall across the room. Voters placed the pins on the map showing where they were registered to vote.
Voters were then invited to participate in a friendly naming of state flags competition, which was won by Sgt. Ariana Light, supply administration clerk, Logistics Support Division, MCLB Albany.
In addition, local voters had the opportunity to talk to voting representatives from Lee, Dougherty and Worth counties about upcoming local elections.
Nonregistered voters were escorted to a nearby conference room where they were assisted by the voting staff in registering to vote in their home state.
Gunnery Sgt. Tyler Nichols, ordnance officer, LSD, MCLB Albany, and newly registered voter, said it was his family that got him interested in watching the recent presidential election.
“My family, during the last (presidential) election, got me into it for the first time because they were so excited about how, they say, the election did not go how everyone thought it was going to go,” Nichols said. “So I started watching it and I was like, I think I am going to vote next time.”
The voting convention was the opportunity Nichols had been waiting for.
“I was briefed that I would only have to be there for a few minutes to get the information but found myself staying about 30 minutes,” he said. “There were activities, refreshments and several Marines on hand to answer any questions I had. This event made it easy to become a voter.”