By BRENDA SCHORY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Kane among Illinois counties that missed deadline for military ballots
The Kane County Clerk's Office did not mail out military and overseas ballots until two days after the Sept. 18 federal deadline.
But Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham's office is not alone, as nearly one in five Illinois counties also failed to meet last month's deadline.
Illinois Statehouse News contacted each of the 110 local election offices in the state and found many that sent out ballots after the deadline for soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen serving overseas. Twenty-one counties missed the deadline, and 87 mailed out ballots on time. Two counties, Marion and Will, did not return Statehouse News calls.
The majority of counties that did not get overseas ballots into the mail on time are smaller, rural counties. But Kane and St. Clair counties are two of the larger counties that did not meet the deadline.
The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Thursday that it is in talks with the Illinois State Board of Elections regarding late mailings of overseas and military ballots.
"The department is working with all states, including Illinois, to investigate and remedy any problems that will prevent our men and women serving overseas from having the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted," justice department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said.
At issue is enforcement of the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which requires that states transmit absentee ballots to military personnel overseas, government employees and other citizens living out of the country who want to vote.
The county election officials are supposed to send the ballots by mail or electronically at the voter’s option, no later than 45 days before federal elections, officials said.
The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division filed lawsuits against New York, Wisconsin and Guam this week. It has reached agreements with Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Nevada, North Dakota, the U.S. Virgin Islands and New Mexico.
Cunningham said the snag occurred in Kane County when county board member John Fahy, R-West Dundee, withdrew from the ballot.
"We waited for the Republican Party to choose a replacement," Cunningham said.
Fahy's replacement, Timothy Haley, was announced Sept. 13, giving Cunningham's office five days to reprint the ballots with the correct GOP candidate for District 21. Cunningham said if his office had sent out the ballots on time, he would have had to re-mail them with the correct name at additional cost.
"The re-mailing would not have gone out until Sept. 27 or 28," Cunningham said. "As far as I'm concerned, Kane County got them mailed out in a timely fashion."
Cunningham said the office is closed Saturdays, and there was no way for the mail to get metered and sent out on that day; it had to wait for the following Monday, Sept. 20.
Chief Deputy Clerk Jay Bennett said everything was done and ready to go by Friday, Sept. 17, but there was no time to mail the 170 military and the 249 overseas ballots.
"We had all the names printed on the envelopes, all ready to go," Bennett said. "It was one of those goofy things."
Daniel White, executive director of the Illinois Board of Elections, said he was working with the justice department on the timeliness of military and overseas ballots.
"All military and absentee ballot applications have been mailed out," White said. "There is no question that some went out after the deadline. At this point, I feel confident that any military or overseas ballot will get there in time and return for the Nov. 2 general elections – and have their vote count."
White said the ballots can be received right before the election, and election officials have up to 14 days following an election for those votes to count as valid.
White said he does not know what happens to county election officials who do not send ballots out by the deadline.
"There is no provision that I am aware of in the election code that provides a penalty for non-compliance," White said.
U.S. Sues To Ensure Military Votes Are Counted
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: October 12, 2010
WASHINGTON — The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department sued New York State on Tuesday to guarantee that state election officials take extra steps to count absentee ballots cast by military service members and other overseas voters in the Nov. 2 election.
Complaint to Protect Rights of Military and Overseas Voters in New York (pdf)New York disclosed last week that election officials had missed an Oct. 1 deadline to mail absentee ballots to such overseas voters from New York City and the counties of Erie, Niagara, Putnam and Westchester.
While all the remaining ballots — roughly 40,000, federal officials said — have now been sent, the delay raised the risk that some might be returned too late to be counted in the election results.
The Justice Department said it was negotiating with New York election officials over extending a period after the Nov. 2 election by which such ballots could arrive and still be counted. The goal of the negotiations is to reach a joint agreement to settle the lawsuit as a consent decree approved by a federal judge, which would be legally binding and would pre-empt state election laws.
“This suit,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, “seeks both immediate and permanent relief to ensure that New York’s military and overseas voters, many of whom are members of our armed forces and their families serving our country around the world, can exercise their right to vote and have their votes counted in the upcoming federal elections.”
The issue traces back to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009, whose sponsors included Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. It made several changes designed to improve the chances that overseas absentee ballots in federal elections would be counted.
Among other things, the law required election officials to mail ballots at least 45 days before a federal election. But that requirement was difficult for New York because by statute its primary was on Sept. 14, just four days before the deadline for mailing general election ballots.
Saying that they needed more time to certify the results of the primary and prepare general election ballots, state officials obtained a waiver to move the mailing deadline to Oct. 1. They emphasized that under New York law, any such ballots that arrived within 13 days after the election would be counted, so there would still be a 45-day window.
The federal government granted the waiver. But on Oct. 5, the state disclosed, without explanation, that election boards in several jurisdictions had missed the extended deadline.
The disclosure prompted Justice Department officials to prepare the lawsuit and open negotiations with state officials about how to settle it. The department said it was likely that the eventual consent decree would extend the deadline for when returned ballots must arrive to be counted, such that each would still have had at least 45 days to make the trip.
The voting rights section has filed similar lawsuits against Wisconsin and Guam and obtained out-of-court agreements with seven other jurisdictions.
In 2008, New York sent 83,422 absentee ballots to military service members and other overseas state residents. Voters returned 54,220 ballots, but 4,155 were not eligible to be counted, according to the waiver materials.
Guam hit with lawsuit over absentee ballots
By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 6, 2010 18:54:50 EDT
The Justice Department filed suit against Guam on Wednesday in the first public signal that the government has been checking to make sure states and territories are following federal law to ensure that military and overseas voters are given sufficient time to cast their absentee ballots.
And there may be more legal action to come.
“We are working with other states to remedy any problems that will prevent our men and women serving overseas from having the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa.
The lawsuit alleges that Guamanian election officials failed to transmit absentee ballots to voters at least 45 days in advance of the Nov. 2 election, which would have been Sept. 18.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Guam on Oct. 6 against the island territory’s government and election officials, alleges that Guam officials didn’t complete the transmission of ballots until Oct. 1. Under Guamanian law, absentee ballots must be received by the close of polls on Election Day in order to be counted.
The lawsuit also alleges Guam election officials did not offer military and overseas voters the option of having their blank ballots transmitted to them electronically until Sept. 24.
Justice officials have filed a motion for emergency relief seeking additional time, until Nov. 15, for receipt of absentee ballots from Guamanian military and overseas voters.
The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 requires states and territories to transmit absentee ballots at least 45 days before an election, although states may request a waiver from that requirement.
Lawmakers and others have raised concerns that some states could not meet the requirement to get the ballots out in time, but had not requested a waiver. Lawmakers asked Justice officials to take action to ensure that all states were in compliance, not just those that requested a waiver.
Guam was not one of the 11 states and territories that requested a waiver.
Justice officials have come to agreement with six states and territories that were denied waivers, to ensure they will take measures to allow votes to count. In Wisconsin, the District of Columbia and Hawaii, voters will get extra time to return their absentee ballots.
In the case of the other three waiver denials, Alaska, Colorado and the Virgin Islands took other actions to enable their voters’ absentee ballots to be counted.
Another three states that were among the five granted waivers — Massachusetts, New York and Washington — also have extended their deadlines for receipt of absentee ballots.
If Guam agrees to or is ordered to provide extra time, official election results will be delayed beyond election day in at least seven states or territories to allow for receipt and counting of military and overseas voters’ absentee ballots.
With less than 30 days to go until the election, Ross Miller showed his true colors. Secretary of State Miller failed to mail out absentee ballots within the 45 day time limit set forth by federal law in 2009 "The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (the "MOVE Act"). Nevada is the second state to face a federal lawsuit, the other being Maryland. The case stems in Elko County where 51 military overseas ballots failed to go out on time. Many were mailed out over 15 days late. Republican Nominee for Nevada Secretary of State and US Army Military Police Officer filed the law suit today in the United States District Court of Nevada. The law suit seeks to ensure the overseas absentee ballots that went out late are counted by delaying the final election certification by the same number of days they were sent out late. So the troops whose overseas absentee ballots that went out 15 days late would have an extra 15 days to mail them back in.
In addition, the law suit seeks an order compelling Ross Miller to send out provisional ballots to all troops overseas not just those who figured out how to download the request form. The Nevada National Guard Command advised Candidate Rob Lauer that the command would turn over all the names and mailing addresses for deployed troops to the Nevada Secretary of State's Office to allow the mailing of absentee ballots forthwith. However, Ross Miller has refused to take this course of action.
Some have speculated because Miller received $33,000 from the left wing, George Soros sponsored group "Secretary of State Project", the same group who helped defeat Senator Norm Coleman with felon votes later determined to be illegal this is an attempt to effect the election. If Miller had ever served in the Armed Forces he would not be playing politics with our troops votes. This is not about Ross Miller or Rob Lauer. It all about helping Harry Reid get reelected. Ross Miller's efforts could have a devastating effect on the election by denying the votes of 1,000's of troops.
Military Ballots May Not Count in Illinois
Source: WLS-AM (Chicago)
The US Justice Department is investigating whether the state of Illinois missed the deadline for mailing absentee ballots to members of the military and other overseas American voters as part of a new federal overseas voting law.
Cris Cray, Director of Legislation at the Illinois State Board of Elections, says not all of Illinois' 110 jurisdictions were compliant with the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE). The law requires every state to mail their absentee ballots 45 days prior to Election Day to overseas troops, government employees and other Americans who want to vote from abroad.
Cray says she is currently compiling data from each of Illinois' jurisdictions to determine which were compliant and which were delinquent. Cray said it's possible the ballots may not be counted because the state was tardy in sending them out.
Illinois was required to have all of its absentee ballots mailed by Sept. 18, the national deadline. Election officials have until Nov. 15 to count the absentee ballots, which must be postmarked by midnight Nov. 1 to be eligible.
In an e-mail response, Justice Department spokeswoman Xochil Hinojosa confirmed that Illinois is being investigated for the absentee ballot infraction...
The Justice Department has brought a lawsuit against the state of New York after settling with New Mexico over a similar case of delinquent absentee ballots for overseas Americans...
Overseas ballots could be a deciding factor in Illinois' mid-term elections where recent polls show a tight US Senate race between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. Republican Bill Brady has an edge over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn for governor.
Editor's Note: Isn't it curious that all of the states having a problem protecting the US military's constitutional right to vote are "Blue" states...curious, isn't it?