I have previously posted about the failure of the Justice Department and its Civil Rights Division to enforce the Help America Vote Act against the Wisconsin election board and the Ohio Secretary of State over their failure to verify the accuracy of voter registration forms. Today’s question is why is the Department not enforcing the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act against the State of Virginia?
The McCain Campaign has been forced to file suit under UOCAVA because of the failure of Virginia counties like Arlington to send out absentee ballots to military voters in time to be returned and counted. A marine stationed in Western Anbar Province, Iraq, for example, did not receive her ballot until October 29 even though she requested it in August, far too late to be mailed back by today’s deadline.
In a hearing this afternoon, the McCain campaign is seeking an extension of time for receipt of overseas military absentee ballots until November 14. They should have also asked the federal court to force Virginia to send ballots by facsimile or email to any military personnel who have still not received their requested ballots and to force the state to pay for the cost of international express mail service for military personnel to be able to send those ballots back. The Department of Justice obtained exactly that kind of relief for the first time in 2004 against Georgia and Pennsylvania in UOCAVA lawsuits when I was still at the Department of Justice.
While it is the McCain campaign that has filed suit, this is an issue that should also be of concern to the Obama campaign. There is no doubt that there are also Obama voters that are affected by this failure of Virginia election officials.
The real question is this – why has the Civil Rights Division not acted to enforce the UOCAVA statute by suing the State of Virginia? The Division is charging with enforcing the UOCAVA statute and protecting the rights of all overseas voters, including particularly our military personnel who are putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once again, they are failing to act.