Department Announces Agreement to Protect Rights of Military and Overseas Voters from Nevada
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it has reached an agreement with Nevada officials to help ensure that military service members and U.S. citizens living overseas have an opportunity to participate fully in the Nov. 2, 2010, federal general election. This agreement was necessary to resolve a violation of the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act).
“Our uniformed service members and other overseas citizens deserve to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the election of our nation’s leaders, and to know that their votes will be counted,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I am pleased that Nevada officials worked quickly and cooperatively with the department and adopted measures that will ensure the state’s military and overseas voters will have their votes counted in the upcoming election.”
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires states to allow uniformed service voters (serving both overseas and within the United States) and overseas citizens to register to vote and to vote absentee for all elections for federal office. In 2009, Congress enacted the MOVE Act, which made broad changes to UOCAVA. Among those changes is a requirement that states transmit absentee ballots to voters covered under UOCAVA no later than 45 days before federal elections.
Following inquiries from the department, Nevada reported that due to a ballot printing delay, one of its counties, Elko County, did not send absentee ballots by the 45th day before the general election to its 34 UOCAVA voters who had requested ballots by that date. To address this MOVE Act violation and permit these voters to have a 45-day period to receive, mark and return their ballots, the Nevada Secretary of State adopted an emergency regulation to provide an additional six days, until 5:00 p.m. PDT on November 8, for Elko County’s UOCAVA voters to return their ballots, provided they are executed and sent by Election Day.
The department previously reached agreements with Wisconsin, Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii; and filed a lawsuit against Guam seeking emergency relief to help ensure that military service members and other U.S. citizens living overseas have the opportunity to participate fully in the upcoming election. More information about UOCAVA and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/misc/activ_uoc.htm . Complaints may be reported to the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.