Feed on Posts or Comments 23 January 2018

2008 Election &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 06 Dec 2008 04:20 pm

Who Will Protect Virginia’s Military Absentee Voters?

Last month, we wrote about Virginia military absentee ballots here and here and here, and the work of the National Defense Committee and others in behalf of military voters.

This week Hans A. von Spakovsky, former Federal Elections Commission member and Heritage Foundation visiting legal scholar, urged the Virginia attorney general to intervene against the position of the Virginia State Board of Elections.  Here is the text of von Spakovsky’s December 2 memorandum:

“FROM: Hans A. von Spakovsky
Former Commissioner, Federal Election Commission

DATE:  December 2, 2008

RE:    Lawsuit in Virginia over Military Ballots

Just prior to the November 4 election, the McCain-Palin campaign filed a federal
lawsuit in Richmond against the Virginia State Board of Elections under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. UOCAVA guarantees the right of military personnel and overseas civilians to vote by absentee ballots in federal elections. The lawsuit claimed that some Virginia counties had mailed absentee ballots too late to be received and returned by military personnel stationed overseas by the November 4 deadline. The lawsuit requested the court to order Virginia to accept as valid all overseas absentee ballots postmarked by November 4 and received by November 14.

Unfortunately, on November 4 the court refused to grant any such remedy. It
only ordered election officials to record the date and time of receipt of all absentee ballots received after November 4 and to store them is sealable container until further order of the court.

On November 17, the McCain-Palin campaign was dismissed as a party and the
U.S. Department of Justice, which enforces UOCAVA, was allowed to intervene in the lawsuit. But the court again denied the Justice Department’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered the counting of these late received absentee ballots.

There is another hearing on December 8. The Virginia election board is not being
represented by the Virginia Attorney General, but by the private law firm of Thompson McMullan. They are asking that the case be dismissed. Virginia is arguing that UOCAVA does not require states to mail out absentee ballots in time for voters to receive them prior to the election because voters can use the federal write in absentee ballot if they do not receive their state ballot.

This is a complete (and shameful) misreading of the requirements of the federal
statute. If the court decides in favor of Virginia, it will be a bad precedent for future UOCAVA cases. It is vital that the Department of Justice continue to pursue this matter when the Obama administration takes control of the Justice Department, including an appeal if it is wrongly decided at the trial court level. The state attorney general should also intervene against the position of the Virginia election board.

A decision in this case may also affect the recount in the 5(h District congressional
race between U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode and Tom Perriello, which is scheduled to start on December 16. Goode lost this race by 745 votes. However, there is no information currently available on how many military absentee ballots may have been received too late to be counted in the 5th District election.”

The next hearing is Monday, December 8Blue Ridge Forum will continue to track any mishandling of Virginia absentee ballots from military persons stationed overseas.

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