Military Ballots Tossed in Virginia

My home county is routinely throwing out absentee ballots from overseas military because of a technicality in the law.

Fairfax General Registrar Rokey Suleman said Thursday that he had had to reject some of the ballots because of a Virginia law passed in 2002. That law — then called Senate Bill 113, sponsored by then-state Sen. Bill Bolling — requires that when an overseas citizen wants to request an absentee ballot and cast a vote with the same paperwork, it requires not only a witness signature but the current address of the witness.

The McCain campaign said there’s not even a space for the witness to list an address. Suleman agreed; he said that the federal document was changed in recent years and that the space for the witness address was removed. But the Virginia law hasn’t changed.

This type of thing happens every year and it’s simply shameful. There’s simply no excuse for military personnel to be denied the right to vote.

Marc Ambinder muses, “Democrats insist they’re biased towards access… so will they try to intervene on behalf of these voters?” I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Update (Alex Knapp):

A follow-up from Marc Ambinder indicates that these votes will be counted after all. Apparently the address is only required in the case where the ballot doubles as an application for an absentee ballot. So as long as the application for the ballot is received by election day as well, the votes should be counted.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    Just in the interests of completeness:

    Senator Bill Bolling. Republican – District 4. Senator Bolling. Capitol Office. Senate of Virginia P.O. Box 396 Richmond, VA 23218

    He’s now Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Obvioiusly a Republican attempt at voter suppression. We can’t have those aliens vote in our elections, can we?

  3. JT says:

    Since at this point every single vote is politicized, expect a heavy amount of fallout over voting access, counting, poll access, etc. It’s nonsense, people shouldn’t feel pressure one way or the other.

  4. Drew says:

    Let us hope that Marc/Alex are correct, and this grotesque literal application of the law – to the detriment of those most directly fighting for everything the right to vote stands for – is corrected.

  5. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Well, you brainless twits, this is the inevitable and predictable (and predicted) consequence of nonsensical voting laws in response to whipped-up fears of fictitious “voter fraud” stories. If you make it harder to vote, then it will be harder to vote. QED.

  6. This just has my blood boiling.

    I’ve quoted you and linked to you here.