Virginia argues that they don’t need to send out military absentee ballots in time to vote

Last year, we covered some of the problems in the counting of military absentee ballots in Virginia, as did others. This problem has not gone away. It has just moved. The day before election day 2008, the McCain campaign filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia to force Virginia to count military absentee ballots that came in after election day. McCain lost Virginia by more than enough votes, but the case went on with the Department of Justice replacing the McCain campaign.There were filings last month and will likely be a hearing this month. So what?

The Virginia State Board of Elections argued in their most recent filing that they have no legal obligation to send out military absentee ballots in a timely manner. Restated, the State of Virginia has argued in a federal court filing that they can legally send out absentee ballots to active duty soldiers the day before an election. Restated again, theDemocratic Chairwoman of the Virginia State Board of Election (appointed by the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia Governor) Jean Cunningham just claimed a legal basis for massively raising the barrier to voting for soldiers at war.

Really. Read on for details.

The details of the legal proceedings are at the invaluable Election Law@Moritz. Let’s start with the most recent filing on behalf of the defendant

There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots.

This is remarkable, and the implications of this should be understood. First of all, some counties in both Virginia and New Jersey haven’t sent out absentee ballots yet in violation of their own laws. Whether due to maliciousness or simply being overburdened and understaffed is always up for debate. If Virginia prevails, there would be a legal argument for putting the ballots of active duty military at the back of the bus, as it were.

Second, this whole debate concerns only federal elections. States have to pass laws that allow for military voting in non-federal elections. I do not believe that either state has done that. Virginia’s filing notes that many of these questions are irrelevant in many ways because of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but their flier on military voting notes “Virginia allows you use the FWAB as an absentee ballot for Federal Offices only”. In other words, not state and local elections. In fact, state laws have to do more to let active duty military vote in state elections.

Third, if ballots were even to be sent out in a reasonable time, a question is them getting back in time. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Dan Boren, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Mark Begich have a proposal to have DoD pay for ballots to be returned by express mail, but Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are blocking consideration in the House, even though it passed the Senate last year.

In discussing last year’s issues, Marc Ambinder noted, “Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?”

Good question.

(cross-posted from The Next Right)

Virginia argues that they don’t need to send out military absentee ballots in time to vote

Last year, we covered some of the problems in the counting of military absentee ballots in Virginia, as did others. This problem has not gone away. It has just moved. The day before election day 2008, the McCain campaign filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia to force Virginia to count military absentee ballots that came in after election day. McCain lost Virginia by more than enough votes, but the case went on with the Department of Justice replacing the McCain campaign.There were filings last month and will likely be a hearing this month. So what?

The Virginia State Board of Elections argued in their most recent filing that they have no legal obligation to send out military absentee ballots in a timely manner. Restated, the State of Virginia has argued in a federal court filing that they can legally send out absentee ballots to active duty soldiers the day before an election. Restated again, the Democratic Chairwoman of the Virginia State Board of Election (appointed by the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia Governor) Jean Cunningham just claimed a legal basis for massively raising the barrier to voting for soldiers at war.

Really. Read on for details.

The details of the legal proceedings are at the invaluable Election Law@Moritz. Let’s start with the most recent filing on behalf of the defendant

There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots.

This is remarkable, and the implications of this should be understood. First of all, some counties in both Virginia and New Jersey haven’t sent out absentee ballots yet in violation of their own laws. Whether due to maliciousness or simply being overburdened and understaffed is always up for debate. If Virginia prevails, there would be a legal argument for putting the ballots of active duty military at the back of the bus, as it were.

Second, this whole debate concerns only federal elections. States have to pass laws that allow for military voting in non-federal elections. I do not believe that either state has done that. Virginia’s filing notes that many of these questions are irrelevant in many ways because of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but their flier on military voting notes "Virginia allows you use the FWAB as an absentee ballot for Federal Offices only". In other words, not state and local elections. In fact, state laws have to do more to let active duty military vote in state elections.

Third, if ballots were even to be sent out in a reasonable time, a question is them getting back in time. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Dan Boren, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Mark Begich have a proposal to have DoD pay for ballots to be returned by express mail, but Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are blocking consideration in the House, even though it passed the Senate last year

In discussing last year’s issues, Marc Ambinder noted, "Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?"

Good question.

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Virginia argues that they don’t need to send out military absentee ballots in time to vote

Last year, we covered some of the problems in the counting of military absentee ballots in Virginia, as did others. This problem has not gone away. It has just moved. The day before election day 2008, the McCain campaign filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia to force Virginia to count military absentee ballots that came in after election day. McCain lost Virginia by more than enough votes, but the case went on with the Department of Justice replacing the McCain campaign.There were filings last month and will likely be a hearing this month. So what?

The Virginia State Board of Elections argued in their most recent filing that they have no legal obligation to send out military absentee ballots in a timely manner. Restated, the State of Virginia has argued in a federal court filing that they can legally send out absentee ballots to active duty soldiers the day before an election. Restated again, the Democratic Chairwoman of the Virginia State Board of Election (appointed by the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia Governor) Jean Cunningham just claimed a legal basis for massively raising the barrier to voting for soldiers at war.

Really. Read on for details.

The details of the legal proceedings are at the invaluable Election Law@Moritz. Let’s start with the most recent filing on behalf of the defendant

There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots.

This is remarkable, and the implications of this should be understood. First of all, some counties in both Virginia and New Jersey haven’t sent out absentee ballots yet in violation of their own laws. Whether due to maliciousness or simply being overburdened and understaffed is always up for debate. If Virginia prevails, there would be a legal argument for putting the ballots of active duty military at the back of the bus, as it were.

Second, this whole debate concerns only federal elections. States have to pass laws that allow for military voting in non-federal elections. I do not believe that either state has done that. Virginia’s filing notes that many of these questions are irrelevant in many ways because of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but their flier on military voting notes "Virginia allows you use the FWAB as an absentee ballot for Federal Offices only". In other words, not state and local elections. In fact, state laws have to do more to let active duty military vote in state elections.

Third, if ballots were even to be sent out in a reasonable time, a question is them getting back in time. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Dan Boren, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Mark Begich have a proposal to have DoD pay for ballots to be returned by express mail, but Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are blocking consideration in the House, even though it passed the Senate last year

In discussing last year’s issues, Marc Ambinder noted, "Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?"

Good question.

0
Your rating: None

Virginia argues that they don’t need to send out military absentee ballots in time to vote

Last year, we covered some of the problems in the counting of military absentee ballots in Virginia, as did others. This problem has not gone away. It has just moved. The day before election day 2008, the McCain campaign filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia to force Virginia to count military absentee ballots that came in after election day. McCain lost Virginia by more than enough votes, but the case went on with the Department of Justice replacing the McCain campaign.There were filings last month and will likely be a hearing this month. So what?

The Virginia State Board of Elections argued in their most recent filing that they have no legal obligation to send out military absentee ballots in a timely manner. Restated, the State of Virginia has argued in a federal court filing that they can legally send out absentee ballots to active duty soldiers the day before an election. Restated again, the Democratic Chairwoman of the Virginia State Board of Election (appointed by the Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia Governor) Jean Cunningham just claimed a legal basis for massively raising the barrier to voting for soldiers at war.

Really. Read on for details.

The details of the legal proceedings are at the invaluable Election Law@Moritz. Let’s start with the most recent filing on behalf of the defendant

There is no federal statute that requires States to mail absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters a minimum number of days before an election. The Complaint in Intervention is based entirely on a “determination” by the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense that such ballots be mailed at least 30 days before an election, and a “recommendation” that States allow 45 days for round-trip mailing of absentee ballots.

This is remarkable, and the implications of this should be understood. First of all, some counties in both Virginia and New Jersey haven’t sent out absentee ballots yet in violation of their own laws. Whether due to maliciousness or simply being overburdened and understaffed is always up for debate. If Virginia prevails, there would be a legal argument for putting the ballots of active duty military at the back of the bus, as it were.

Second, this whole debate concerns only federal elections. States have to pass laws that allow for military voting in non-federal elections. I do not believe that either state has done that. Virginia’s filing notes that many of these questions are irrelevant in many ways because of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, but their flier on military voting notes "Virginia allows you use the FWAB as an absentee ballot for Federal Offices only". In other words, not state and local elections. In fact, state laws have to do more to let active duty military vote in state elections.

Third, if ballots were even to be sent out in a reasonable time, a question is them getting back in time. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Dan Boren, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Mark Begich have a proposal to have DoD pay for ballots to be returned by express mail, but Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi are blocking consideration in the House, even though it passed the Senate last year

In discussing last year’s issues, Marc Ambinder noted, "Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?"

Good question.

0
Your rating: None

PSA: Tell your friends in the military how to vote by absentee

(Posted on behalf of some Virginia activists who appreciate that those who serve deserve the right to vote)

For all the attention paid to the recent voting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one would think that the process for getting absentee ballots to our own service men and women should be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s a rather convoluted process and easy to miss the deadlines – especially if you’re deployed in a war zone.

For service personnel who claim residence in Virginia and New Jersey, this is a pressing issue, as the deadlines for requesting ballots for the statewide elections this November are fast approaching. A couple of organizations in Virginia, the Dominion Leadership Trust and ProjectVirginia are working to publicize how service men and women can vote in these two states’ 2009 elections.

The important first step of this process is to alert military personnel that they are eligible to vote absentee and give them the information to navigate the process for requesting a ballot. While both of these organizations are supporting Republican candidates, the information they are providing is a non-partisan step-by-step guide to navigating the process. They are simply asking everyone who knows someone in the military or a military family to email them this information – a small request to support our men and women in uniform.  You can use the links below:

Virginia: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote

New Jersey: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote-nj

The voting difficulties faced by deployed military personnel are not new – and cut across federal, state and local elections. As Peter Roff of US News & World Report wrote in May 2009, the PEW Center on the States found that only 26 percent of the absentee ballots requested by military personnel were ever actually counted in 2006. The widespread difficulties with military absentee voting in 2008 led Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Beigich (D-AK) to sponsor a bipartisan bill, the Military Voting Protection Act and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to sponsor the bill in the House, earlier this year. While this legislation is a worthwhile effort, it is aimed at 2010 – so the rest of us need to step up just a little in 2009 and help spread the word to the troops and their families today.

 

0
Your rating: None

PSA: Tell your friends in the military how to vote by absentee

(Posted on behalf of some Virginia activists who appreciate that those who serve deserve the right to vote)

For all the attention paid to the recent voting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one would think that the process for getting absentee ballots to our own service men and women should be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s a rather convoluted process and easy to miss the deadlines – especially if you’re deployed in a war zone.

For service personnel who claim residence in Virginia and New Jersey, this is a pressing issue, as the deadlines for requesting ballots for the statewide elections this November are fast approaching. A couple of organizations in Virginia, the Dominion Leadership Trust and ProjectVirginia are working to publicize how service men and women can vote in these two states’ 2009 elections.

The important first step of this process is to alert military personnel that they are eligible to vote absentee and give them the information to navigate the process for requesting a ballot. While both of these organizations are supporting Republican candidates, the information they are providing is a non-partisan step-by-step guide to navigating the process. They are simply asking everyone who knows someone in the military or a military family to email them this information – a small request to support our men and women in uniform.  You can use the links below:

Virginia: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote

New Jersey: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote-nj

The voting difficulties faced by deployed military personnel are not new – and cut across federal, state and local elections. As Peter Roff of US News & World Report wrote in May 2009, the PEW Center on the States found that only 26 percent of the absentee ballots requested by military personnel were ever actually counted in 2006. The widespread difficulties with military absentee voting in 2008 led Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Beigich (D-AK) to sponsor a bipartisan bill, the Military Voting Protection Act and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to sponsor the bill in the House, earlier this year. While this legislation is a worthwhile effort, it is aimed at 2010 – so the rest of us need to step up just a little in 2009 and help spread the word to the troops and their families today.

 

0
Your rating: None

PSA: Tell your friends in the military how to vote by absentee

(Posted on behalf of some Virginia activists who appreciate that those who serve deserve the right to vote)

For all the attention paid to the recent voting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one would think that the process for getting absentee ballots to our own service men and women should be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s a rather convoluted process and easy to miss the deadlines – especially if you’re deployed in a war zone.

For service personnel who claim residence in Virginia and New Jersey, this is a pressing issue, as the deadlines for requesting ballots for the statewide elections this November are fast approaching. A couple of organizations in Virginia, the Dominion Leadership Trust and ProjectVirginia are working to publicize how service men and women can vote in these two states’ 2009 elections.

The important first step of this process is to alert military personnel that they are eligible to vote absentee and give them the information to navigate the process for requesting a ballot. While both of these organizations are supporting Republican candidates, the information they are providing is a non-partisan step-by-step guide to navigating the process. They are simply asking everyone who knows someone in the military or a military family to email them this information – a small request to support our men and women in uniform.  You can use the links below:

Virginia: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote

New Jersey: http://www.ProjectVirginia.com/military-vote-nj

The voting difficulties faced by deployed military personnel are not new – and cut across federal, state and local elections. As Peter Roff of US News & World Report wrote in May 2009, the PEW Center on the States found that only 26 percent of the absentee ballots requested by military personnel were ever actually counted in 2006. The widespread difficulties with military absentee voting in 2008 led Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Beigich (D-AK) to sponsor a bipartisan bill, the Military Voting Protection Act and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to sponsor the bill in the House, earlier this year. While this legislation is a worthwhile effort, it is aimed at 2010 – so the rest of us need to step up just a little in 2009 and help spread the word to the troops and their families today.

 

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Overtones of VA GOP’s position on “Statement of Intent”

Last night the Virginia GOP passed a resolution:

The Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee yesterday evening passed a motion requesting the Virginia State Board of Elections withdraw the “statement of intent” requirement before participating in the 2008 Republican presidential primary contest.

While the committee did request the Virginia State Board of Elections to withdraw the requirement to sign a statement of intent for the 2008 primary, State Central re-emphasized their commitment to closed primaries by passing a resolution supporting party registration in Virginia.

The "statement of intent" would have required that voters in the Republican primary pledge to support the Republican nominee.

Anyone who has been following VA GOP politics gets the irony in this. I suspect that what really happened is that pro-lifers revolted. They refuse to pledge to support Rudy who they see as a likely or probably winner of the VA GOP primary. The irony is that these are the same groups that are trying to close the primary, reiterated above. As a side note, the VA GOP wants party registration because it makes campaigning much easier.

Thompson on Security and Unity

Fred Thompson’s campaign’s motto is "Prosperity, Security, Unity". He addressed the first of these during his main speech to the Americans for Prosperity. He addressed the other parts during a speech to the Virginia delegation.

Nothing special, but interesting to see the rest of his message.

I was struck, again, by how much the crowd wants to like him. He did pretty well with this event. He got a big rousing standing ovation.

Court invalidates VA nomination laws

This is sort of interesting. In Virginia, incumbents are allowed to pick the process by which nominations for their seat are made. A part of that law was struck down. There is also no party registration. The 4th Circuit said that the law is unconstitutional, as applied, when the incumbent picks a primary as the nomination process:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit handed down a ruling today in the case of Miller v. Brown affirming in full the decision by Judge Hudson of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of Virginia that the Commonwealth’s open primaries law is unconstitutional (at least with regard to instances where an incumbent selects a primary as the means of nomination and the political party committee is forced to use a method by which it is prevented from excluding voters with whom they do not want to associate.)

The appellate decision goes through a list of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on this issue and makes clear that a state must have a compelling interest for it to interfere in a party’s political nomination process and that is a high burden for a state to meet.  However, in Virginia a party can use means other than a primary to select a nominee and those means can be tailored to exclude non-party members.  It is only when a committee is directed by an incumbent to hold a primary and that primary must be open in accordance with state law that the committee’s First Amendment rights of association are violated.

It seems that the court is saying that one primaries require party registration. That seems like a lot to find in the Constitution.