States blasted for late absentee ballots
A group of key lawmakers want assurances from the Defense and Justice departments that the rights of military and overseas citizens who vote absentee will be protected in the Nov. 6 elections.
“We are concerned that, absent prompt and effective remedial action, some men and women in uniform will be deprived of the 45-day window to vote guaranteed” by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, stated an Oct. 11 letter signed by Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Daniel E. Lungren, R-Calif., chairman of the House Administration Committee; and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Meanwhile, Justice Department officials have filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont alleging election officials violated the law by not sending out absentee ballots soon enough for military and overseas voters — the latest in a string of complaints filed this year against states for that reason.
The lawmakers’ letter cited reports that jurisdictions in Vermont, Michigan, Mississippi and Wisconsin had failed to mail absentee ballots to service members by the Sept. 22, 2012, deadline established by the MOVE Act. That date, 45 days before the Nov. 6 elections, is designed to give military members and their family members who vote by absentee ballot — either within the U.S. or overseas — as well as U.S. citizens living overseas a reasonable time window to receive and return their ballots.