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Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA)

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Doe v. Walker (Roger W. Titus, D. Md. 8:10-cv-2646)
A federal complaint filed 40 days before the 2010 general election alleged that absentee ballots had not been sent to overseas voters in time. It turned out that ballots listing only federal offices had already been sent out. The district judge extended the deadline for the state to receive ballots for state offices by ten days to preserve overseas voters’ fundamental rights to vote.
Topics: Absentee ballots; military ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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United States v. Alabama (Myron H. Thompson, M.D. Ala. 2:12-cv-179)
The U.S. Department of Justice alleged violations by Alabama of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA), as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE Act), respecting timely distribution of absentee ballots for a March 2012 primary election. A weekend and two court days later, the district judge ordered the parties to submit a remedy plan within four days. A few days before the election, the judge extended the deadline for casting overseas ballots and ordered publication of the revised overseas absentee voting procedures. The judge ordered permanent changes to the election timetable in 2014 and closed the case in 2017.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Bush v. Hillsborough County Canvassing Board (Lacey A. Collier, N.D. Fla. 3:00-cv-533)
The district judge ruled that it was improper for counties to not count federal write-in ballots cast by overseas voters solely because the counties had no record of an application for an absentee ballot or solely because the ballots were not postmarked.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); military ballots; absentee ballots; write-in candidate; enforcing orders.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Texas (Sam Sparks, W.D. Tex. 1:02-cv-195)
Eighteen days before a federal runoff primary election, the Justice Department sought a court order requiring a state to allow overseas voters to use the federal write-in absentee ballot, as provided by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, and the district court granted the requested immediate relief three days later. After a little more than one year, state legislation provided for use of the federal write-in absentee ballot.
Topics: Absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); primary election; section 5 preclearance.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

In Print: Available for Distribution

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires federal and state governments to facilitate overseas citizens' participation in federal elections. In particular, jurisdictions must be able to send out absentee ballots to overseas voters at least forty-five days before federal elections. The enfranchisement of overseas voters began with military personnel, extended to their families, and then extended to citizens who are overseas for other reasons. This monograph surveys federal court interpretations of the statute. The text of the statute is included as an appendix.

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United States v. West Virginia (John T. Copenhaver, Jr., S.D. W. Va. 2:14-cv-27456)
A state supreme court ordered a replacement candidate for a state legislative election, granting a writ of mandamus that also requested the nullification of absentee ballots already sent out that included the withdrawn candidate’s name. The Justice Department sought an injunction requiring that votes for federal offices be counted in the otherwise voided absentee ballots for overseas voters if the overseas voters did not cast corrected ballots. Although the district judge denied the Justice Department preliminary relief, on full briefing the judge ordered federal votes counted for the four ballots at issue.
Subject: Absentee and early voting. Topics: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); absentee ballots; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Board of County Commissioners v. Duran (1:14-cv-844) and New Mexico ex rel. Salazar v. Duran (1:14-cv-848) (Karen B. Molzen, D.N.M.)
A state’s secretary of state removed two actions to federal court that challenged her refusal to put nonbinding ballot questions on two counties’ ballots, citing federal requirements that she transmit absentee ballots to overseas voters imminently. The parties consented to a magistrate judge’s presiding over the cases, and the judge determined that she did not have federal jurisdiction over the cases, applying the well-pleaded complaint rule. The state court ruled promptly against the secretary of state.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; ballot measure; absentee ballots; case assignment; matters for state courts; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Virgin Islands (Curtis V. Gómez, D.V.I. 3:12-cv-69)
Eight days before a primary election, the government sought a consent decree on overseas absentee ballots, which had not been sent to overseas voters in time.
Topics: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Georgia (Steve C. Jones, N.D. Ga. 1:12-cv-2230)
The Justice Department filed a federal complaint against Georgia on June 27, 2012, because a planned primary runoff election would not allow enough time after the initial primary election to mail absentee ballots overseas. The district judge extended the deadline for return of absentee runoff ballots and ordered Georgia to pay for their express delivery. The court retained jurisdiction over absentee voting in Georgia in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, Georgia amended its election laws to comply with the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act, so the lawsuit was dismissed.
Topics: Absentee ballots; Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Michigan (Robert J. Jonker, W.D. Mich. 1:12-cv-788)
One week before Michigan’s 2012 federal primary election, upon learning that a substantial number of election jurisdictions were not in compliance, the Justice Department filed a complaint to enforce a requirement that absentee ballots be sent to overseas voters at least 45 days in advance of an election. Four days before the election, the court approved a stipulated order extending the deadline for receipt of cast overseas ballots by the number of days that they were sent late.
Topics: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA); absentee ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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