AS many as 19% of U.S. voters mayvote by absentee ballot in next month’spresidential elections, the U.S. StateDepartment said this week.This number of potential absenteevoters represents an increase from the14% who voted absentee in the 2000elections, according to a survey by thePew Center for People and the Press.While political parties are consideringthe power of the overseas and militaryvote, many of these absentee votes willactually come from voters within theUnited States. Many states have movedtoward more relaxed voter laws, allowingvoters to vote by mail.Deadlines are quickly approaching forvoters in Costa Rica to send in their ballots.Absentee voting deadlines vary bystate, however, most require that ballotsarrive by Election Day Nov. 2.The U.S. Embassy in San Joséencourages U.S. citizens in Costa Rica tomail their ballots no later than Oct. 15.Ballots may also be brought to theConsular Section of the embassy beforeOct. 20 to be mailed at no cost.For those who have not decided ontheir vote, two debates remain betweenU.S. President George W. Bush and hischallenger, Democratic Senator JohnKerry: Oct. 8 and Oct. 13. A vice presidentialdebate will be held Oct. 5.For more information on absenteevoting and deadlines, visit www.fvap.govor www.usembassy.or.cr.