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Justice Dept. sues New York for military absentee ballot delay

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 3:16 p.m. ET
The Justice Department is suing New York State and has settled a similar case with New Mexico for missing deadlines to mail ballots to overseas troops as part of a new federal overseas voting law.

The legal action comes less than three weeks before Election Day and as Republican lawyers are urging the Obama administration to closely monitor the distribution of absentee ballots to troops.

The 2009 MOVE Act requires states to mail absentee ballots 45 days before Election Day to troops, government workers and other Americans who want to vote from abroad. The law required the Defense Department to establish procedures ensuring the swift delivery of ballots to troops and the Pentagon also urged service members to obtain ballots.

This year's national deadline was Sept. 18, but the Defense Department permitted New York to mail ballots by Oct. 1 because the state's primary day was just four days before the deadline. New York State election officials had until Nov. 15 to count the absentee ballots.

But several New York counties and New York City's five boroughs failed to mail ballots by the deadline forcing the Justice Department to file suit Tuesday and request an extension of the deadline for counting ballots.

"Our laws guarantee that uniformed service members and other overseas citizens will have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the elections of our nation's leaders," Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a statement.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the MOVE Act, called on his home state to quickly deliver ballots and extend the deadline to Nov. 23. "This is the least New York can do to make sure that none of our troops are disenfranchised," he said.

Absentee ballots from troops serving overseas could tip the scales in close Congressional elections that include military bases. Rep. Bill Owens (D) is facing a tough reelection campaign against Matt Doheny (R) in New York's 23rd Congressional district, home to the massive Fort Drum Army Base.

"It's unacceptable that any state would fail to meet" obligations of the MOVE Act, said David Norcross, chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association. The group assists GOP candidates with election law issues.

"The Obama administration must act swiftly to guarantee that every service member receives his or her ballot in time to vote," Norcross said.

The Justice Department settled a similar case with New Mexico Tuesday as six state counties failed to meet the deadline. Voters from those counties who requested overseas ballots by Sept. 18 and send them by Nov. 2 will be counted until Nov. 6, according to the settlement. It is also suing Guam and has settled with five other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands for violating the law.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | October 13, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Military  
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I LOVE this. The Oblather Admin FIRST approved an extension that would pretty much guarantee that the GIs couldn't vote in time (GIs OVERWHELMINGLY vote conservative) and now is feigning concern.

Time to put these schmucks on trial for treason...

Posted by: illogicbuster | October 13, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The Justice press release doesn't say if New Mexico has sent the ballots out yet, so I think we can assume they haven't. If the ballots are sent out tomorrow, taht means that Justice's settlement with New Mexico will have let New Mexico send out the ballots 25 days late in exchange for extending the due-back deadline by 4 days. Most criminals don't get that kind of plea bargain.

Posted by: erasmuse | October 13, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

As early as the New Black Panther Case Debacle, Eric 'hold-on-there; pay no attention to high crimes and misdemeanors' Holder revealed that the DOJ had successfully morphed from DOJ: the Department of Justice into the DOJ: Democratic Obstruction of Justice... doing everything possible to disenfranchise any and all voters who did not / might not / would not support the policies of a destructive Obama and Pelosi Juggernaut... especially the serving military to whom we owe debts that cannot be repaid... instead of this petty abuse and disrespect which these MOVE Act violations represent.

Posted by: dbsinOakRidge | October 14, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Hey everybody, pass this on as much as you feel you should, it's being carefully[unless you know or luckily come across how to ask in search] suppressed by all the main media outlets except Fox, which brought it out at the first of the week. Something here, is rotten in the state of Denmark[Hamlet] and there's a Spaniard in the works[John Lennon] Do you hate being lied to as much as I do? I'll take that as a possible yes, okay? Thanks and regards to all. Bob

Posted by: boblusby | October 14, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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