Justice Dept. touts overseas ballot law enforcement
By The Post's Justice Department correspondent Jerry Markon:
The Justice Department is ramping up efforts to ensure that troops, government workers and other Americans can vote from overseas in the midterm elections, taking enforcement actions that officials on Wednesday said are unprecedented.
Since Sept. 10, the department has filed five lawsuits - against Wisconsin, Guam, New York, New Mexico and Illinois -- to compel compliance with the 2009 MOVE Act. The law requires states to mail absentee ballots 45 days before Election Day to Americans who want to vote from abroad.
The government has also reached out-of-court agreements with nine other jurisdictions, including Alaska, North Dakota and Mississippi to ensure that overseas and military voters have time to receive and cast ballots, officials said.
"The Justice Department's pre-election enforcement of the MOVE Act is unprecedented and unmatched in any other election cycle with regard to any other voting statute, and the work continues as we speak,'' Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said at a briefing for reporters.
Perez said the enforcement efforts, undertaken by more than 20 staff members in the Civil Rights Division's voting section, are helping about 65,000 voters cast ballots.
The legal action less than a week before Election Day comes as Republican attorneys have urged the Obama administration to closely monitor the distribution of absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots from troops serving overseas could tip the scales in close congressional elections that include military bases. Rep. Bill Owens (D), for example, is facing a tough reelection campaign against Matt Doheny (R) in New York's 23rd District, home to the massive Fort Drum Army Base.
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