Military absentee ballots mailed late

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More than two dozen people gathered outside the State Board of Elections, protesting that once again, military absentee ballots were mailed out late. The group wants the system changed, so soldiers aren't disenfranchised.

Sixteen different local registrar's offices did not meet the September 18th deadline to mail out military absentee ballots. In Central Virginia, that includes Richmond, Colonial Heights, Williamsburg and Caroline County. This after the General Assembly just passed a law requiring those ballots to go out 45 days before an election.

Nathan Cox says he was lucky last year when the Hanover County registrar was able to email his ballot while he was fighting in Iraq. He thinks the late military mailings are somewhat ironic.

"You've got soldiers fighting for our freedoms, fighting for their right to vote and their votes don't even count," he said.

We wanted to get some answers from the State Board of Elections. We were able to get our hands on fifty pages of documents, detailing exactly what happened and why those ballots were mailed out late.

The excuses run the gamut. The city of Richmond told the SBE it had difficulty getting information from the state computer system. Colonial Heights gave the same reason; this time because of a change in IP addresses. The computer in Caroline County died. And, the registrar in Williamsburg was out sick on September 18th.

Secretary Nancy Rodriquez tells us in the sixteen cases, the ballots were mailed out within a few days of the deadline and they've already received some of those votes.

"We're keeping track of that. We know which ones were sent out late and we're also tracking to see, making sure that they have come back in," she said.

After hearing that, Cox said, "It seems like to me they've already recognized that there is a problem and they've already started to fix it."

Rodriquez expects to get all the late absentee ballots in time to count. She also says the board will be working with those sixteen localities and possibly the General Assembly to see what changes need to be made to make sure this never happens again.

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