Feds: 65,000 overseas voters protected before vote

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has reached an agreement or won a court order in 14 states and territories to protect more than 65,000 overseas and military voters ahead of the Nov. 2 midterm elections, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said today.

Perez, who heads the department’s civil rights division, told reporters that the department sued four states and Guam in September and October over violations of the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which expanded protections for overseas absentee voters.

The law requires that ballots be sent to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before a federal election so jurisdictions have time to count those ballots.

For various reasons — Perez said “there’s no excuse that’s a legitimate excuse” — several states and territories didn’t get ballots sent on time this year, prompting the Justice Department to sue or negotiate out-of-court agreements. Among the remedies employed were an extension of time to count ballots received after Nov. 2, express mail of absentee ballots, notification of voters about changes in procedures.

Wisconsin, New Mexico, New York and Illinois agreed to consent decrees before the cases were heard in court. The lawsuit in Guam went to trial, and a federal judge there ordered Guam to accept these ballots until Nov. 15.

Nine jurisdictions — Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota and the Virgin Islands — reached out-of-court settlements.


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