The federal government has rejected any responsibility for a law preventing some territorial residents from voting absentee in federal elections, court documents show. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a response Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that responsibility for potential harm for territorial residents who wish to vote absentee in other states where they have resided lies instead with an Illinois law. Francisco made the argument in response to a group of residents of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam who claim they were denied their constitutional right to vote absentee in Illinois because of the tenets of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The case, Segovia v. The United States, seeks a declared right to vote absentee for residents of the territories.
In his argument, Francisco said no provision of the Absentee Voting Act — referred to in legal documents as UOCAVA — prevents Illinois from issuing absentee ballots to people residing in the territory and Puerto Rico.
“In this case, petitioners ‘desire to have a vote in’ federal elections in Illinois and allege that, as a result of UOCAVA, they have been illegally ‘excluded from the basic right to participate in elections,’” he wrote.
However, the source of the ban didn’t stem from the provisions of UOCAVA, Francisco wrote.
“If Congress repealed UOCAVA tomorrow, petitioners would not gain the right they seek to participate in federal elections,” he wrote. “Petitioners’ alleged injury — their inability to vote absentee in federal elections in Illinois — thus is not ‘fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of’ the federal respondents.”
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