The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the state of Illinois missed the deadline for mailing absentee ballots to members of the military and other overseas American voters as part of a new federal overseas voting law.
Cris Cray, Director of Legislation at the Illinois State Board of Elections, says not all of Illinois' 110 jurisdictions were compliant with the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE). Cray says she is currently compiling data from each of Illinois' jurisdictions to determine which were compliant and which were delinquent. Cray said it's possible the ballots may not be counted because the state was tardy in sending them out.
Senate candidate Mark Kirk, a Navy veteran himself, isn't pleased:
I am deeply troubled that the spokesperson for the State Board of Elections said that military ballots in Illinois may not be counted in this election. Our men and women in uniform are putting their lives on the line everyday to defend our democratic freedoms. What a disgrace it would be if our state denied them theirs. I will do everything in my power to defend the rights of our men and women in uniform. I urge my opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, to stand with me in support of our men and women in uniform.
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady piles on:
I am deeply concerned about today’s disturbing report that Illinois may have failed to mail absentee ballots to our military members serving overseas in a timely manner, and in accordance with the law. The U.S. Department of Justice is right to conduct a full and immediate investigation. The Federal Government and the state of Illinois have the responsibility to take any and all action to ensure the right of those who defend our freedom overseas to cast their votes in this important election. Failure to act on this disturbing report threatens the integrity of this election, and our democratic process.
There are several issues at play here:
First, there's the obvious principle that the men and women who defend our right to vote in this country must never be denied the right to have their say in our political process.
Second, there are a handful of very competitive races in Illinois this year, in which absentee ballots could tip the balance. Republicans traditionally outperform Democrats by a wide margin among military voters, so the political implications are obvious. Illinois Republicans also have two prominent military veterans on the ballot this year in Mark Kirk and IL-11 Congressional candidate Adam Kinzinger.
Finally, Illinois is a state thoroughly dominated by Democratic control. At best, this apparent failure to meet a critical election deadline underscores Democrats' rank incompetence and mismanagement of the state--and that's assuming this was entirely unintentional, which some people might not.