October 28th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Overseas ballots should be counted, VA AG says

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin campaigned in Fairfax County, Virginia last month. Their campaign has tried to bring attention to a legal snag that could have caused some overseas absentee ballots from Virginia voters to be rejected.
Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin campaigned in Fairfax County, Virginia last month. Their campaign has tried to bring attention to a legal snag that could have caused some overseas absentee ballots from Virginia voters to be rejected.

(CNN) – Virginia’s Attorney General is weighing in on the conflict between federal law and a Virginia statute that could have caused some absentee ballots from overseas to be rejected by Fairfax County, Virginia.

Related: Ballots from U.S. troops risk being discarded

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

In a formal legal opinion issued Monday night, Robert McDonnell concluded that federal law controls over the conflicting Virginia law. The opinion clears the way for roughly 60 overseas absentee ballots in Fairfax County to be counted in next week’s election returns and perhaps more ballots in the same predicament throughout Virginia.

Click here to read McDonnell's opinion

A mini-controversy had been brewing, with Fairfax County Registrar Rokey Suleman at its center, about the possibility that ballots from members of the military serving overseas would not be counted in next week’s presidential election. “I am getting e-mails from people offering to buy my tombstone,” Suleman said Monday about the anger that has been directed at him over the ballot controversy. Suleman also told CNN that so far 63 overseas ballots submitted to Fairfax County, Virginia were potentially caught up in the legal snag that the Virginia AG’s legal opinion has resolved.

The Virginia State Board of Election is set to take up the matter of the overseas ballots at a meeting Tuesday. The Board is likely to follow McDonnell’s opinion and direct Suleman and other county registrars across the state to accept federal write-in absentee ballots that are valid under federal law which but did not comply with additional requirements imposed by Virginia law.

–CNN's Carol Costello contributed to this report


Filed under: Virginia • Voter Problems
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. victor,nj

    McCains plans to create jobs is to reduce corporate tax from 35% to 25%, citing that the reason corporation ship jobs overseas is the low corporate tax of others countries like Ireland with 11% tax.

    Call me stupid, but can anyone explain how 25% tax compared with 11% tax would bring back jobs. This plan is nothing but welfare for large corporations that continue to ship jobs overseas.

    Also can anyone exlain how business would hire more employees when there are no demand for the product and service they are provide. let me simplify this for everyone.

    Consumer with no money= no demand for products.
    No demand for products= no profits for businesses.
    No profits for businesses= no hiring of new jobs.

    so lower tax for corporation= large pay checks for CEO

    WHEN DID STOPING GEORGE BUSH FAILED TAX POLICIES BECOME A SWITCH TO SOCIALISM???????????

    WAKE UP AMERICA, USE YOURS BRAIN TO ANALYZE AND OBSERVE. STOP BEING PUPPETS FOR CAMPAIGN RETHORIC AND MEDIA BIASES LIKE FOXNEWS.

    October 28, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Rick

    The corrupt, lying democrats are trying to steal the military votes again.

    October 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Brenda R. Harris

    They give their lives for this country and now to be told that their vote does not count. Who, what and where did they make up this rule. When my husband was overseas his vote did not count either and this was during the Cuban crisis. The United States need to over haul their system and quick.

    October 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Debby

    Are you kidding me with this. All this Acorn fraud and our US military can't cast their vote. This is so UnAmerican.

    October 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Will someone PLEASE tell the people of Virginia that this is the year 2008, 1777 iis long time gone !!!!

    October 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. John B. In NH

    let ALL the votes be counted. no more 2000 and 2004!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Accountant Guy

    Wow, guess the Republicans are trying everything they can to steal another election. It's not going to work this time. Get out and Barack the Vote America!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. Olivia

    absolutely......these ballots should be counted.

    October 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Amy

    It's only right that those ballots should count. Either VA should drop that requirement or their specific requirements should be added to the Federal form's instructions.

    Voter disenfranchisement in any form is wrong.

    October 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  10. SPENCER/VIRGINIA

    VIRGINIA WILL BE BLUE

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. arc, Lugano CH

    'Uncounted'.

    This is a must-see bi-partisan documentary for educated global-minded voters. The dire situation that the United States now finds itself on the domestic, economic and foreign relations fronts are a result of outright criminal election fraud by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

    Something is beginning to sound very familiar....

    October 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. Lance

    Figures. I expect there will be many disqualified votes especially in the states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. If you can't beat em...CHEAT. It has worked well for the Republicans in past elections (Remember Florida and the "chad" issues?). McCain/Palin will be shoe-ins!

    October 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Nancy, PA

    Good, let every overseas American vote for Barack.

    Here's the thing. Do you really think all this political excitement is over McSame? I dont' think so, Americans are excited about Barack Obama.

    Case in point.

    Two rallies in Pennsylvania, one has 4,000 people and another has 45,000. You do the math, and guess which rally was for Barack? Right, the largest one because more people want to hear what he has to say. McSame on the other hand is a snoozefest, and 4 years of listening to "my friends" would drive me to drink.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. xargaw

    Count every vote! Is this America or not? Suppressing the vote, disenfranchising voters, discouraging voters is a horrific crime. We either honor our country or we are just another third world bastion of corruption. Those that attempt to alter elections by limiting voting should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    October 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. JADE

    Does this really surprise anyone? The Republicans have their prints all over this one!

    October 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Bruce

    Could this be another irregularity to not count votes..... this haas Florida of 2000 written all over it....

    October 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Oliva - Colorado

    If I have to see or hear Palin again I'll scream. She sure thinks alot of herself........I don't.

    October 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Audrey

    You guys are getting to be a real joke. If a democracy like India with over one billion people can all vote on one day with paper ballots and the total counted within three days – what is your problem. Every State has a different system, different voting rules – I thought this was supposed to be the UNITED States of America and not an individual state. Come on, the rest of the World is watching "democracy in action" and it has become a televised sitcom instead.

    October 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. katiec

    This suppressing of votes is going on all over our country.
    It needs to be exposed and resolved everywhere before]
    the election.
    We cannot again allow anyone to steal this election!!

    October 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Send McNasty Back To Arizona

    Yes, I wish they would go to every battlefield and get the votes on the Americans who have their lives on the line.

    McNasty actually voted against more benefits for the soldiers because their lives would be too comfortable and he wanted them to re-enlist. What a moron.

    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond.

    October 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. Barbara

    I think that we should change the laws for all states for the same. I keep hearing how one state does something different than another. I don't see how thats possible. when did this country become separtlest from each other. We are all americans under laws, but should be for the same for all states. American needs to get back what we lost so long ago, Integrity, Honesty, honor. Lets get these votes counted, lets change some laws around here.

    October 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Blayze Kohime

    Not allowing soldiers that are giving all they have overseas to vote... that is one of the least patriotic things I can possibly conceive of next to outright treason.

    October 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Punish the incumbent party (Republicans)

    count every vote, as long as its for obama.

    October 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Cindy from NC

    The voter in this case should not be penalized if it didn’t even state this information on the form.

    If they filled out the paperwork and did everything required, that would be ashamed to throw their vote away. Now legitimate voter should be stopped from voting in this election. Especially for a technicality like this.

    Enough is Enough

    October 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. Boye

    Are we seriously going to suppress the votes of people who risk their lives for our freedom? What is the point in serving, if all you get is a punishment for your effort.

    October 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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