Virginia’s state government violated the rights of overseas voters by failing to mail out their absentee ballots at least 30 days before the 2008 election, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Richard Williams of the Eastern District of Virginia found that the state ran afoul of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act when it sent more than 2,000 ballots to overseas servicemen and civilians after the 30-day deadline. Many of those ballots were not counted because the state election board did not receive them back by the close of polls on election day. The judge ordered the state to count the votes, even though they wouldn’t change the outcome of the election, and gave officials 20 days to concoct a plan for doing so.
The suit was originally brought by the McCain-Palin presidential campaign on Nov. 3. The Justice Department joined on Nov. 14.
“The men and women who bravely put their lives on the line to serve their nation deserve, at the very least, to know that their votes will be counted, and their voices will be heard,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in a press release. “I am gratified the Court acted so decisively to uphold the right of those serving our country in uniform and other citizens living abroad to vote, and I applaud the attorneys and staff in the Voting Section for their hard work on this case to protect that right.”