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Friday, November 14, 2008
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Justice Department Seeks to Intervene in Suit to Enforce Rights of Military and Overseas Voters in Virginia

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department filed a motion today in federal court seeking to intervene in a private lawsuit compelling Virginia election officials to take steps to ensure that qualified overseas voters have a reasonable chance to participate in the Nov. 4, 2008 general federal election.

The lawsuit alleges that Virginia election officials failed to mail out requested absentee ballots to Virginia citizens living overseas in sufficient time for them to vote in the general election. The Justice Department is seeking to intervene in the private lawsuit pursuant to its enforcement authority under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

"This action seeks immediate relief to ensure that Virginia military and overseas voters will have a reasonable chance to have their votes counted in this year’s historic election," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department’s proposed complaint, which must still be accepted by the U.S. District Court in Richmond, alleges that some qualified Virginia voters would not have their ballots counted in the 2008 general federal election because many Virginia election officials failed to mail the absentee ballots in adequate time to reach eligible voters and be returned in time to be counted. The Justice Department requests a court order that extends the deadline for counting military and overseas ballots to Nov. 14, 2008, for those ballots that were executed by Nov. 4, 2008. The proposed complaint also seeks relief to ensure compliance with UOCAVA in the future.

More information about UOCAVA and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice Web site, Complaints about discriminatory voting practices may made by calling the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.