The state plans to argue it won’t be necessary to extend the deadline to count votes in the upcoming election until Nov. 16 to be sure that ballots from the military and other Vermonters overseas have been returned. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a court to require the state to give military and overseas voters more time because some towns failed to send out ballots 45 days prior to Election Day as required under a 2009 federal law. The lawsuit claims local election officials received 894 requests for ballots from citizens overseas and military stationed both abroad and elsewhere in the United States, but failed to respond to 191 of those requests by Sept. 22, which is 45 days before the Nov. 6 election.
The Department of Justice has initiated six similar lawsuits in Alabama, California, Georgia, Michigan, the Virgin Islands and Wisconsin, since January. These legal actions all related to failures to get absentee ballots out in time for primary elections.
Vermont got into trouble when a recount in the Progressive gubernatorial race in the Aug. 28 Primary Election delayed the printing and transmission of General Election ballots to town officials until just before the Sept. 22 deadline for sending out absentee ballots, Secretary of State Jim Condos said. According to the state’s records, 154 ballots were emailed after the Sept. 22 deadline and 42 were mailed — for a total of 196. Condos said he doesn’t know how the Justice Department came up with its count of 191 late ballots.