Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One vote One soldier's doesn't count

Why would anyone try to disenfranchise soldier's votes who are deployed overseas?

That is pretty pathetic and reprehensible.

If it was negligent it is just as bad.

McCain campaign sues over overseas military ballots

John McCain's presidential campaign filed a federal suit Monday against Virginia seeking to extend by 10 days the deadline for the state's acceptance of military members' federal absentee ballots.

Word of the suit emerged Monday afternoon, around the time that a separate election-related injunction request to extend voting hours in today's election was being rejected in federal court.
A national voter rights group, the Advancement Project, and the state NAACP chapter sued the state last week claiming unfair election practices and sought court action to change the distribution of voting machines in Norfolk, Richmond and Virginia Beach, extend polling hours and permit wider use of paper ballots.

Judge Richard Williams did not grant the immediate injunction, though the suit is expected to proceed at a later date. In his ruling, Williams reasoned that last-minute changes to the election format could harm the public in the name of protecting voters potentially disenfranchised by current state election laws.

The McCain suit, meanwhile, seeks an injunction to extend the date by which federal write-in absentee ballots must be received to be counted. The current deadline is today, but the suit seeks to have the date changed to Nov. 14.

"Because many counties in Virginia failed to mail absentee ballots in time to our men and women in uniform stationed overseas, service members are being disenfranchised because they are unable to return their ballots before the November 4 deadline," campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a written statement about the suit, which is scheduled to be heard in Williams' courtroom at 1:30 p.m. today.

Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach are among the localities cited in the lawsuit as those that mailed absentee ballots overseas in late September. The suit argues that service members didn't have enough time to cast their votes and return them stateside.

Estimates range between federal agencies, but systemic impediments to overseas voting are seen as a hindrance that keeps service members stationed abroad from voting with the same success rate as the domestic population.

This is the second recent flap over federal absentee ballots; an earlier dispute was resolved last week when state election officials allowed about 100 ballots to be counted that otherwise would have been disqualified under state law.

Responding to the suit, Obama campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis said the Democratic presidential candidate "is strongly committed to protecting the rights of veterans and active-duty military. That is why our campaign sent a letter to every secretary of state earlier this fall urging them to do everything they can to ensure that the vote of active military and veterans are counted."

In the earlier lawsuit regarding voting equipment and hours, Williams acknowledged in his ruling that he would like to see Virginia adopt the early voting rules used by some other states, and also use more voting machines on Election Day. "Those changes have to come from the Virginia General Assembly, not the court," he said.

The judge, however, ordered state election officials to publicize the availability of curbside voting for elderly and disabled citizens and to remind voters that anyone in line when polls close at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

After Monday's hearing, NAACP national President Ben Jealous urged voters to be patient as they wait in Election Day lines.
"We are urging all voters to stay in line tomorrow," Jealous said. "Americans have waited 230 years for this: a multi-gender, multi-generational, multi-racial" election.
"This is a big day. Stay in line," he said.