Saturday, October 30, 2010

U.S. District Court Slaps Board of Elections on Military Ballots

In an development not reported on by either the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post--natch--a U.S. District court granted a petition by the Military Voter Protection Project and ordered the Maryland State Board of Elections to count military ballots after the November 12 deadline.

The U.S. District Court issued a ruling Thursday saying that the "manner in which Maryland is conducting absentee voting for state offices in the Nov. 2, 2010, election deprives absent uniformed services and overseas voters of their fundamental right to vote."

It added that the plaintiffs, which included a military service member still in Iraq, had shown that Maryland's current deadline would "severely burden" the ability of military and overseas citizens to vote. It said "the state's asserted interest in enforcing the present deadline do not justify such a burden."

As a result, overseas and military voters will be given an extra 10 days to get their votes counted. Instead of having to be received by the state Board of Elections on Nov. 12, they must return their ballots by Nov. 22.

"The federal district court judge found that Maryland's process of sending out a full ballot on Oct. 8 violated the Constitution," Eric Eversole, the attorney who filed the case, told on Friday.

The lawsuit was a reaction to Maryland's enforcement of the MOVE Act, which required states to provide absentee and military voters with ballots at least 45 days before the general election. At first, the state had sought a waiver to comply with the law, but it then withdrew the waiver and decided it could mail out federal race ballots on time.

Because Maryland held its primary on Sept. 14, local results were not certified until after the Sept.18 deadline to meet the 45-day standard. Local boards did not mail out ballots for state races until Oct. 8. The MVPP sued the next day.

How sad is it that a federal court has to force Maryland to ensure it counts the votes of it's service members. Even worse the board is consulting with Attorney General Gansler's office to weigh an appeal.


Gunpowder Chronicler said...

What is truly sad is that the Lieutenant Governor -- who is allegedly a JAG lawyer -- was completely AWOL on this entire issue.

Way to stand up for your brothers and sisters in arms. I wouldn't trust this guy if he is in my foxhole, that's for sure.

Chester Peake said...

I hope no conservatives in tight races concede before those military ballots are all counted!

John J. Walters said...

The other sad thing is that we don't even count third party votes in this state.

We try to teach people that every vote counts but it's simply not true. What we should actually be teaching people is the every vote counts as long as it's cast for the guy that will already win anyway.