01 April 2009

No April fools here: Justice Dep't protects the rights of military voters in New York special election

Military and overseas voters have been provided additional time for the receipt of their ballots in yesterday's special election for New York's 20th Congressional seat. The election is still too close to call with GOP James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy in a dead heat. The U.S. Department of Justice had announced last week, in a press release, that it had reached an agreement in a previously filed lawsuit to provide until 13 April 2009 for the receipt of ballots by military and overseas voters for yesterday's election.

"Our uniformed service members and other overseas citizens deserve the opportunity to participate in elections of our nation's leaders." said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "I am pleased that New York's officials have agreed to the measures that will afford immediate relief to ensure that the state's voters overseas, many of whom are members of our armed forces and their families serving our country around the world will have a reasonable chance to vote in this special election," said King.

The counties in the 20th Congressional district did not mail requested absentee ballots to New York's military and oversees voters until 12 March 2009. There were more than 1,300 overseas voters entitled to receive absentee ballots for yesterday's election., including 471 military voters presently stationed overseas. The seat became vacant in January when Senator Hillary Clinton resigned to become Secretary of State. New York Governor David Patterson appointed Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who held the 20th district seat, to the United States Senate in order to fill the vacancy of Clinton's seat. That move left the 20th Congressional seat open. It now looks like the absentee military ballots will determine the outcome of the election.

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