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Justice Department Announces Filing of Lawsuit to Protect Rights of Overseas Citizens to Vote in 2006 Federal Primary Elections in Alabama

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced that it has filed a lawsuit to protect the opportunity of military and overseas voters to participate fully in the 2006 federal primary elections in Alabama. The lawsuit was brought under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), which requires states to allow military and other overseas citizens to register to vote and vote absentee for all elections for federal office. The lawsuit names as defendants the State of Alabama, Governor Bob Riley, Attorney General Troy King and Secretary of State Nancy Worley.

The lawsuit contends that the three-week period between Alabama’s federal primary and run-off elections is too short for run-off ballots to be created, mailed, and returned from absentee voters in distant places including war zones. The complaint asks the court to order adoption of a special blank run-off ballot, state and county Internet notice and media publicity of run-off candidates, expedited return of run-off ballots from overseas voters, and extra time for the receipt and counting of those ballots. The Civil Rights Division had notified each of the state officials of the need for action to comply with the UOCAVA by letter received by each of the state offices on Dec. 20, 2005.

“We are determined to ensure that all overseas voters, including our armed forces overseas, can vote and have their ballots counted, as guaranteed by federal law,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department has brought numerous suits under the UOCAVA to ensure that overseas voters are not deprived of an opportunity to vote due to late mailing of absentee ballots by election officials. In 2004, the Department obtained emergency orders in Georgia and Pennsylvania extending the deadline for return of absentee ballots and worked with state and local officials in Alabama to remedy a problem caused by a county’s late mailing of absentee ballots for the 2004 primary election.

More information about the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website, Complaints about discriminatory voting practices may be called in to the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.