Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign has filed a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin to extend the amount of time military and overseas absentee ballots can be returned.
The federal suit came on the heels a campaign request to the state’s Government Accountability Board to extend the deadline after at least 30 Wisconsin municipalities failed to send overseas ballots 45 days before the election, which is required under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA). The campaign proceeded with the suit against GAB after their initial request was denied.
“Because members of the military are often stationed in remote, dangerous, frontline locations, there is a substantial likelihood that the defendants’ violations of law will prevent military voters from receiving, completing, and returning their ballots in time to have them counted,” the lawsuit filed Friday reads. “The defendants’ unlawful conduct therefore may effectively disenfranchise the very men and women who make daily sacrifices to protect our system of democratic government.”
The campaign is requesting that the court grant at least five additional days, beyond the Nov. 9 deadline, for those ballots to be returned. The suit is part of a larger push on the part of the Romney campaign to ensure that all military ballots are counted.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Daily Caller that the campaign is monitoring the military ballot process across the country, not just in swing states. The campaign has also sent letters regarding potential UOCAVA violations to officials in Mississippi, Michigan, New Jersey, Alabama, and Vermont.
“Governor Romney believes that our fighting men and women overseas deserve the full voting period that is required under federal law,” Williams said. “It is unacceptable for government bureaucrats to drop the ball and deny them what is required by law.”
The Department of Justice filed suit against Vermont last week for failing to send out ballots on time.
Williams said that Wisconsin has been a “serial offender” when it comes to ensuring overseas personnel receive their ballots on time, noting that this is the third time in two years that the state has had issues with military ballots.
GAB downplayed the issue at the beginning of October, telling the Huffington Post that out of 4,288 military and overseas ballots sent from Wisconsin, only 44 ballots were sent out late.
According to Williams, however, the GAB’s excuse was “unacceptable.”
“Governor Romney believes that one military ballot sent out too late is one ballot too many,” he said. “We’re taking action, sending letters and looking at potential legal action elsewhere and Wisconsin had replied to us saying they were not going to extend the deadline and that is why we acted.”
GAB public information officer Reid Magney said that they have been working to fix the issue, and now claims that only four of the ballots went out late.
“The Government Accountability Board has been working diligently with municipal clerks, whose responsibility it is to send out absentee ballots, and with the U.S. Department of Justice on military and overseas ballot issues,” he said in a statement. “We will respond to the substance of the lawsuit in court filings. Only four ballots were sent out too late to have the required 45 days of transit time to reach the voter and be returned for counting.”
This story has been updated.