October 27th, 2008
04:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Virginia has issue with some overseas ballots

Sen. McCain campaigned in Fairfax County, Virginia last month. His campaign has recently sought to bring attention to a Virginia law that may cause some overseas ballots from military members to be rejected.
Sen. McCain campaigned in Fairfax County, Virginia last month. His campaign has recently sought to bring attention to a Virginia law that may cause some overseas ballots from military members to be rejected.

(CNN) – “I am getting e-mails from people offering to buy my tombstone,” Fairfax County Registrar Rokey Suleman said Monday about the brewing controversy over his decision to comply with a Virginia law regarding a small class of absentee ballots for next week’s presidential election.

The ballots have fallen victim to the interplay between state and federal law and a rare set of factual circumstances. Federal law allows members of the U.S. military and other voters living overseas to vote in the general election using a federal write-in absentee ballot. The problem has been caused by the fact that when a Virginia voter decides to use the federal write-in absentee ballot both as a ballot to cast a vote and as an absentee ballot application, a separate Virginia law requires that the paperwork submitted by the voter include the address of the person acting as a witness for the voter.

But here’s the issue: neither the federal absentee write-in ballot itself nor its instructions mentions Virginia’s requirement that the witness’s address be included. In fact, the ballot form doesn’t even have a space to write down the witness address which Virginia requires.

Click here to see the federal write-in absentee ballot

As of Saturday night, Fairfax County, Virginia has received 63 absentee ballot applications that are subject to the legal snag and 6 or 7 of those 63 appear to be from members of the U.S. military, according to Suleman.

“I hate the law. I absolutely hate the law. The law’s ridiculous. The law needs to be changed,” Suleman told CNN. But as he reads the statute, he has no choice but to reject the ballots unless and until state officials tell him differently.

Click here to read more about Suleman's position on the law

Linda Lindberg, Suleman’s counterpart in nearby Arlington County, has not received any absentee ballots yet that would be covered by the Virginia law and she concedes that Suleman’s reading of the law is technically correct. But the Arlington County Registrar says that if she was confronted with the situation, she would accept the ballots. “Our position is this is just common sense,” Lindberg said Monday, pointing out that Virginia’s requirement to provide the witness’s address is not on the ballot form and not in the ballot’s instructions. “Why should we be penalizing the voter for something they know nothing about?,” Lindberg added.

The McCain campaign and members of the military from Virginia held a press conference about the problem late last week and the Virginia State Board of Elections is aware of the conflict.

The state board “is working with the Office of the Attorney General to conduct a detailed review of both laws to guarantee that no undue hardship is placed upon voters who use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot,” an October 25 press release on the Board’s Web site says.

“Everyone involved is taking a closer look at both Federal and State laws to ensure that every effort is made to count the votes,” the Board’s Secretary Nancy Rodrigues says in the release.

The problem with overseas ballots caught up between the state and federal requirements is set to be addressed at the Board’s October 28 meeting.

If you have any problems or concerns about voting, CNN would like to hear about them. Call CNN’s voter hotline at 1-877-GOCNN-08 (1-877-462-6608) to report your problem.


Filed under: Virginia • Voter Problems
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. GARY

    OBAMA SUPPORTERS ARE THE MOST NAIVE PUPPETS I HAVE EVER SEEN.OBAMA IS NOTHING BUT A FLIP FLOPPING JERK. YOU SUPPORTERS ARE JUST HIS LITTLE PUPPETS. IF YOU THINK THIS GUY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD ,YOU BETTER GET OUT OF FANTASY LAND AND COME TO REALITY.ALL HIS DIRTY TACTICS ,MONEY AND BS. WONT CHANGE WASHINGTON AND THE GOVERNMENT. HRC TRIED FOR YRS. TO GET UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.CONGRESS IS THE MAIN PLAYING CARD.THEY HAVE LAST SAY. OBAMA WILL BE WASHINGTONS CLOWN IN THE WHITEHOUSE. RIGHT NOW HE IS THE MEDIA CLOWN.

    October 27, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Dan from Philly

    Hillary supporter now for McCain/Palin October 27th, 2008 5:15 pm ET

    You are a complete idiot. Your precious Hillary lost and you still hold a grudge all this time later? Grow up!

    It's absolutely disgusting and insulting to suggest that people are only voting for him because he's black or they are young and stupid. I'm 43 and white and was for him from day one.

    The vote did not and is not going your way so you have to stoop to such vile (and completely unsupportable) ideas? If you only knew how stoooopid you sound...

    October 27, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Michael F

    This seems like an honest glitch caused by our federalist construction.
    No one wants to discount military votes, but what happens when common sense flies in the face of the law? Virginia needs to address this BEFORE November 4th and get the issue settled. Deciding how to handle it after the other votes have been counted is not a good idea.

    Someone mentioned ACORN: TURN OFF the FOX"News". If Mickey Mouse really shows up to vote, the fraudulent registrations that ACORN flagged for the authorities would be an issue, but I don't see him showing up.

    October 27, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. Peter (CA)

    Hey Obama show,

    Take a Valium. It's all the usual Republican smears while their candidate is the knight in shining armor. Give it a rest. No one gets to this height without something in the background that looks questionable. Your guy is not any different.

    How about some details other than your foaming at the mouth. Here's a detail I got......McCain wants to discredit ballots sent in by overseas members of the military. Hey, there's a guy who supports the troops!

    October 27, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. Ncarter

    no issues, never any plan on the republican side....only slander....that's gonna get us far.

    October 27, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Flo

    Why don't CNN report what is happening in Georgia the state is sending letters to registered voters to prove they are U.S. citizens because of a so called computer glitch, but get this they knew about this months ago and people are recieivng letters 10/09/08 and giving them one week to comply or they will not be allowed to vote. Another GOP voter suppression??????? More than 50,000 letters went out.........McCain and crooks will do anything to win this election if WE allow them. DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    October 27, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. Christian

    Hillary supporter, I am a 52 y/o cauc. female with 1 undergraduate college degree and two graduate degrees and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor society (not that I expect you to know that means I was in the top 5% acedemically at my university) and I am voting for Obama. Oh yes, I am from KS and had an uncle who was Rebublican Speaker of the KS House. You don't have to be educated, just intellegent to know America needs Obama. Palin is a complete joke.

    October 27, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Rose

    It's getting so close to the election and every 4 years like clockwork there are always problems... It would be so easy to make one universal voting system yet no one has done it – What is so difficult?

    October 27, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. pa

    Voter suppression anyone?

    October 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. Vic

    Go Blue Virginia! Go Democrats!

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08

    October 27, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey I just heard from a URS that obama is throwing in the towel and crashing to defeat. Seems his town of Chicago needs him to take care of the crime in his neighborhood. Seems his past drug use is finally catching up with him and discouraging voters.

    I say if you can't control your hometown, how in tarnation are you going to control our nation.

    Give it up Obama and return to clean up your town

    October 27, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Lani

    People get out and vote for McCain. We have to save our country from the Obama socialist/marxist government. I am terrified for our country if we don't defeat the liberal agenda. It is trying to create conflict much the way the anarchists of the 60's did. This country is the greatest in the world-please defend it from liberal interlopers!

    October 27, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. AZ Lauren

    Obviously a couple of people on here that drank the Koolaid over at Fox News (which will soon be renamed GOP News).

    1. Voter fraud has not occurred........Voter registration is what is in question. So unless Mickey Mouse or Deputy Dog show up to cast a ballot on Nov. 4th, there is NO voter fraud.

    2. Regardless of party or canidate , these absentee ballots should count.

    3. The goverment has left voting processes up to each state. Apparently, some states have yet to get their act together. This has been going on for too long. Will the federal goverment, for the love of God, enact some legislation to prevent all these problems in the future! How many elections do we have to go through this crap before it's stopped?

    October 27, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  14. rock the vote

    To the educated Joe the Plumber who cannot spell the conjunction "are not" as aren't, and not arnt...

    How is it democratic to only let one party submit absentee ballots? Furthermore, how can anyone deny letting the people who serve our country, regardless of their political preference, have a chance to vote in this historic election?

    No matter who you're rooting for, get out and vote! Vote early, vote on November 4th, whatever - just let your voice be heard!

    October 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  15. No Hillary = No Obama

    Just what is Obama's plan – is he a Marxist? Is he a socialist? Or he is just an empty clanging sloganeer who has no plan? Will the real Obama please stand up.

    October 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. susie

    Obama is buying votes.

    October 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. gregg

    vote for the god of good , the god of all wisdom,, the god of america,,, may god bless the united system of states,,, go obama,, he is the god of all,, he rules ,, all of us,, he is wiser than all,,, he is our god,, bow , to

    October 27, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. VOTE! OBAMA!!! VOTE! OBAMA!! VOTE!

    People screaming socialism and spreading the wealth, that is a bunch of crap!! If your falling for that then think about this. Elect McCain and Palin with no job and the economy the way it is you won't have any "wealth" to spread.

    VOTE OBAMA, DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!!! LONG LINES SHOW CHANGE IS COMING!!!! RECORD NUMBERS TUNRNED OUT TO VIOTE EARLY IN MOST STATES!!!

    October 27, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  19. Lani

    Conservatives-you are sending your children to the universities so that they can be taught to hate you. We have allowed the liberals from the 60s to get into the educational system and destroy their minds. I raised my kids with too much and now I see that any values I have tried to instill in them are being undermined by the liberal agenda. I heard a saying once that the communist would destroy the US by getting its ideas in from the inside and I am afraid we are seeing the manifestation of that in this election. I can not believe that I am seeing this happen to my country that I fought for!

    October 27, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. Melina

    Silly people ask about Obama's skeletons but conveniently ignore McCain and Palin's many skeletons

    October 27, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. sandee in Portland

    How said this is. I live in Oregon and we mail in our ballots for every election. Don't understand why the rest of the states don't vote like we do. No long lines to stand in, no voting machine malfunction, no hanging chads, vote in the privacy of your own home on your own time. It's the best, and we never have had any voting problems.

    October 27, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  22. Latina-Indepedent-4-OBAMA

    THERE THEY GO AGAIN..........THE LIES-FEAR-HATE-AND-DIVISION MONGERS!

    I am old enough to remember what was said during the 50's and 60's whenever Democrats ran for office.

    The Republicans are MASTERS of lies, hate,FEAR and division! They 'believe' that they are the "true Americans"........ ONLY they are Christians!

    But if you look at the Republican record you will see the the LIES they tell.

    PLEASE AMERICA, LET'S REJECT THE LIES, HATE, FEAR-AND-DIVISION THAT THE REPUBLICANS SPEW!

    (please boycott Fox News)

    October 27, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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