Wisconsin missed deadline for some overseas absentee ballots
MADISON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says Wisconsin had not given its deployed military members enough time to vote in the upcoming November 6th election. The Romney campaign wants the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to extend the deadline for absentee ballots to be received — but some say the solution isn’t that simple.
Federal law says absentee ballots for military and overseas voters must be sent out a least 45 days before a federal election. For this year’s presidential vote, that deadline was September 22nd — a deadline 26 Wisconsin municipalities missed.
“It’s disappointing, but you’re always going to have some technical difficulties and you’re going to have ballot issues. We’ve built a lot of protections into the process,” GAB Chairman Kevin Kennedy said.
Kennedy has acknowledged 34 absentee ballots were sent out after the 22nd. Though the other 4,254 ballots hit the mail in time, Romney’s campaign says it’s not the first time Wisconsin has missed the mark.
“In the 2012 presidential primary Wisconsin did have an issue. We were paying extra attention to Wisconsin and in some circumstances, they failed to get the ballots out on time,” Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said.
“They’re all important and we focus on them because we want to make sure all ballots are delivered within the parameters of the law, but we recognize that you can have problems,” Kennedy said.
Wisconsin already gives absentee ballots an extra three days to be counted — meaning only six of the 34 late mailings will not have the full 45 days of transit time. Still, Romney’s campaign says it believes something can be done to give everyone enough time.
“We have asked the GAB to extend the deadline, and if they don`t, the Romney campaign is ready to file their own lawsuit because we believe our fighting men and women overseas have a right, and we take that right very seriously,” Williams said.
However, that’s no easy task.
“It would take a court order. They’re going to have to convince a judge that those voters weren’t adequately served,” Kennedy said.
However the Romney campaign asserts without the court order, those six ballots could miss the box.
Wisconsin offers another alternative to mailed-out absentee ballots. Military and permanent overseas residents can print their ballot through the internet, which requires no transit time. Of the six absentee ballots that were past deadline, five were emailed out. All absentee ballots however must be mailed back to be counted.