Despite court prodding and changes in state election laws, 16 Virginia localities have failed to meet a deadline to allow absentee ballots of military personnel serving overseas to be counted on time.
Nancy Rodriques, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said she did not know how many ballots will not be counted.
The local election districts include the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights and Williamsburg as well as Caroline County.
In last year’s presidential race, about 2,100 military ballots went uncounted. The presidential campaign of Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin sued the State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court here. After losing the election, the McCain-Palin team withdrew and the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil-rights division intervened.
Local registrars did the mishandling of the ballots, but the State Board of Elections was brought into the suit because it oversees the registrars.
On Oct. 15, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams ruled for the second time that the state violated the voting rights of military personnel and overseas citizens last year by failing to mail absentee ballots in time for them to be counted. He gave the state 30 days to count the ballots, even though the counting would make no difference in the outcome. Barack Obama carried the state by 233,000 votes.
UPDATE: Caroline County Registrar Danette Moen released the following statement and, well, you tell me:
Friday September 18th was the first day of absentee. Absentee voting begins 45 days before a General Election. Historically, because the 45th day before the General Election is a Saturday the first day of absentee was the Monday.
A couple of days earlier I checked my ongoing and email reports. Both reports said “No Data Matching Request” The next day I started having trouble with my computer and I thought it was a virus. I found out it was not a virus according to the IT Technician the office computers experienced catastrophic failure and had to be replaced.
I worried myself almost to death over the weekend but, he had a new computer up and running by Monday and I was able to get out my absentee ballots. I decided to recheck my reports because I was sure I had at least one ongoing application.
The reports came back showing some ongoing and email applications I sent those out. I would like to say that even with being a few days later than the first day of absentee, the overseas and military voters that have email received their ballots before they would have a little over a year ago when they had to be mailed.
I have already received part of the ballots back and we have until Election Day to get the others back.
I believe a clarification needs to be made regarding an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch of Oct. 28th 2009. Caroline County absentee ballots for the November 2008 election were out on time. Caroline County counted every eligible absentee ballot that was returned.
Some voters knowing the deadline was close sent their ballots back by express mail others did not.
Can someone please explain to me what the hell that says?