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. Chris F.

    If they're votes for Mc Lame I don't care but if they're for Obama accept them and accept defeat already LMAO!! I did not vote for a lier and elitest like Mc Lame he's fake 10000% Look at his history people and listen to the lies he feeds you. Got to CNN's Fact Checker and see for your self...

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

    ALL VOTES SHOULD BE COUNTED, REGARDLESS!!! OUTRAGEOUS THAT THEY WOULDN'T ???

    October 28, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. CitizenAJ

    Our service members in combat zones should be given an opportunity to just right down their choice a month in advance and send them in. They are in combat and should be given some flexibility in their voting. Why is this article link up with a McCain-Palin photo? Does CNN know McCain's voting record on veteran issues? Its abysmal.

    October 28, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Tired of the Nonsense

    Ironically, with all McCain's background and history, the military has overwhelmingly donated to Obama at a rate of 6 to 1 and has made it known that the majority supports Barack Obama and his stance for a definite withdrawal plan.....McCain and his 100 year war plus his choice for VP have made his campaign very unpopular with the US military overall.

    So.....count the votes!

    OBAMA/BIDEN'08

    October 28, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Pamela

    Was this not also an issue during the 2004 election?
    If not, why is it now?

    October 28, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Barack The Vote

    Change.

    October 28, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Tired of the Nonsense

    .....and let's not forget Colin Powell's endorsement.

    OBAMA/BIDEN'08

    October 28, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Thomas

    200+ years and we still can't run an election right.

    It is high time for one standard for federal elections. One form, one process, one ballot, one voting method, one standard of record keeping.

    THAT'S change we need

    October 28, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Punish the incumbent party (Republicans)

    I can honestly say, if the republicans win, I will not spend any money except for food, gas, water, electricity, 1 cell phone, and trash pick up. I will allow my house to foreclose and move into a shack. I will no longer believe its possible for America to do what is obviously right.

    Every one should just stop funding rich people, and stick it to them where it hurts.

    October 28, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. LYNETTE IN CA

    We're one week away from voting day and I find it hard to believe that this is coming up now!!!

    Let the votes count and then get it together for the next time.

    October 28, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Kim

    already pulling out all the ways to fraud the election if McCain wins I will finally be convinced that my vote does not matter. People need to look past race and just look at what each candidate stands for and then you would truly understand that McCain and his Vice President are not ready McCain can't even stay out of his personal feelings he is too emotional what do we want now we already are in war do we want to have World War 3?!

    October 28, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Frank in NYC

    First we had ROVE....now we have ROGUE (Palin).....

    BO/JOE 08

    October 28, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Laverne

    Here we go..............

    October 28, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. mike

    more surpressing the vote of actual people from the Obama campaign.....yet he has no problem with dead people and mickey mouse casting their votes

    October 28, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Clarence (Florida)

    Count the ballots. Why are we even debating this?

    October 28, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Jeff Brown

    McCain and Palin couldn't even do a proper "Who's on first" routine!

    October 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. CONCERNED INDEPENDENT

    I find it downright "disgusting" at the many ways votes can be suppressed, not counted, the absentee ballots, overseas ballots, so many ways elections can be STOLEN..and I hold the republicans directly responsible ! They have shown many times how they have stolen elections..I sincerely pray this election wont be that way too, and if is, the American people will rise up in protest ! Lets have FAIR elections finally...the democrats havent always been purest either, however, they cant begin to hold a candle to the many ways republicans suppress votes, find ways to change votes, dont count votes, have machines break down, intimidate voters, list goes on and on..
    PLEASE ALLOW A FAIR ELECTION...

    October 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. America, My Home

    God bless America
    Land that I love
    Stand beside her
    And guide her
    Through the night
    With the light from above
    From the prairies
    To the mountains
    To oceans
    White with foam
    God bless America
    My home, sweet home
    God bless America
    MY HOME SWEET HOME

    October 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. mary, colorado springs

    The Constitution says they can vote......let them.

    October 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Joe

    Accountant guy....before you make an idiotic statement again....perhaps reading the information will help you...it is the Mccain campaign that is fighting for the votes to count. Jhn wants all legitimate votes to count...just not the dead people or the mickey mouse's of the world that Obama has signed up.

    October 28, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Obama/Biden 08!

    HRC: "EVERY VOTE MUST COUNT!" Just count the votes and fix the ballots after next Tuesday!!

    October 28, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. The New Civil War has begun (Sons of the Founders vs. The Socialists)

    Good lord, it's 2000 all over again. I think I see Al Gore hiding behind a dumpster that sports a sign reading, "Put Military Ballots Here."

    October 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. NoMcSame

    They can go overseas and DIE for us but they can't vote for us. Go figure. Always a trick. The Good ole boys must go and that is why I am voting Obama. We need a fresh start. Change is on the way and the American voters are going to do it.

    October 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. New Yorker

    It figures there would be at least one Obamanut who thinks the Rpublicans are responsible for this. Talk about stealing elections-go see ACORN.

    October 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. s

    why is this even a debate?!?

    COUNT THE VOTES!

    Enough already!

    October 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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