October 28th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
6 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. TexicoFromMexico

    Why do I smell a big Republican Commie fraud comming on here? Why is it that this country does not have ONE VOTING SYSTEM WITH THE SAME BALLOTS, VOTING BOOTHS AND LAWS? EVERY SINGLE STATE WHEN IT COMES TO NATIONAL ELECTIONS SHOULD ALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE! DID WE LEARN NOTHING FROM 2000? NOW WE ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT AGAIN.......

    October 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Mike, Texas

    How is this even possible in America? We are always the first to criticize other country's elections but ours looks really messed up. A true awakening.

    October 28, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. pam Eugene OR

    This needs to be made right so these votes counts. These are votes from our military folks who are laying their lives on the line for us.
    They have a right to be heard no matter who they vote for.

    October 28, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. Good Luck Barack & Joe

    I live in England, and I've already voted for Barack Obama.

    Good luck Barack and Joe, and keep the fires burning for all Americans overseas.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 28, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. truth hurts

    repuds at work, there is more to come hold on tight

    October 28, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Obama The Marxist

    Of Couse the Democrats do not want the votes to count from overseas ballots. Most of the ballots are from our Military overseas who support McCain 3 to 1.

    I am sure the left wing liberals will do all they can to support Acorns illegal registrations of dead people and mickey mouse, but suppress the votes of our heroes in the military overseas.

    The Military has a voice.

    Go McCain

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    How many ways can the powers-that-be attempt voter suppression in this election? Count 'em already!

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Debi

    We hear so much about the undecided voters. In this election we have two candidates that are majorily different. Where have these undecided voters been? Do they watch debates and speeches or are they holding back for their own attention? Get over it folks....the decision isn't or shouldn't be that difficult.

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. mfelder

    Surprise, GOP trying to suppress voting participation in this election.

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. undecided

    This is another reason that we, as a country, need to go to 1 unified, standardized ballot for Federal elections.

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Maggie from Virginia

    I believe the GOP voter suppression tactics will backfire, like every other dirty trick they've practiced this election year. The GOP should really take a long hard look at what their party represents. The number one problem I have with the GOP is their lack of diversity. People are tired of their divisiveness.

    October 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Jessica

    I smell rotten rats.

    October 28, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Desmond Sequeira

    Has the USA become a real third rate state. The numerous attempts (no matter how disguised) to prevent citizens from voting is becoming a chronic disease -absolutely disgraceful. Is this the only way the Republicans can win?

    October 28, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Mrs. Daniel

    My God....COUNT THE VOTES!!!!!!!!

    October 28, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. annie - never again a dem.

    How many absentee ballots were thrown out before someone decided to stand up for our military men and women?

    October 28, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Rob

    Let's see, if they're votes for McCain then we should not count them. But if they're votes for Obama, we should count them three times.

    That's the Obama mentality. Of course it's not like they're not doing anything important, just defending American values. That doesn't really matter, right Barry? Hey, what does Michelle think about this? Does it make her ashamed to be an American, seeing as she was until you started winning primaries?

    October 28, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. payback

    How many years, have they had, to get this right. Now, it seems as close to the most important election in history, they screw it up.......whats-up with that....

    October 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Confused

    Just curious. How can you make exceptions for one group, and not another? All the voters that were purged because of a simple mistake that a clerk made. Or you can get purged also because your name sounds "arabic" and the reasons go on and on and on. How about doing this a couple of weeks before election day when it needs to be 90 days.? You go to vote on election day, and they tell you that you can't vote. Obviously there is no time to fix the problem. I want every vote to count, EVERY VOTE.

    October 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Tiff of Lithia Springs

    WHEN IS THIS GUY UP FOR RE-ELECTION. PEOPLE NEED TO REMEMBER HOW LONG IT TOOK FOR A COMMONSENSE DECISION.

    October 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. vahe

    palin and mccain look dumb togather they should be separated.... so they can hide their image

    October 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Red Rules

    COUNT THE VOTES! Regardless who you vote for IT'S OUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!

    October 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Love My USA/Do You?

    Why can't we see a copy of BO Birth Certificate. It is now become appearant tht he is refusing to relea se it. What is on his web page is a phony. If he has it we the American peopl are demanding that he release it to the proper authority for review.

    BO what are you hiding. Tell the truth....

    October 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. mIke

    Yes!...Lick them ..dem a try fi steal

    October 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. KEN IN HOUSTON

    if you dont want to vote for Obama because he is black then................VOTE FOR THE WHITE HALF!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. jen

    I thought only convicts lost their right to vote? Is this any way to treat our bravest?

    October 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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