View Full Version : Virginia election board to count military write-in ballots

10-30-2008, 11:41 PM
RICHMOND -- The Virginia state Board of Elections decided Tuesday to follow the advice of Attorney General Bob McDonnell and count the absentee ballots of military voters whose federal forms did not contain certain information required under Virginia law.

The board's unanimous decision ended a controversy regarding the treatment of about 100 write-in absentee ballots cast by military voters serving overseas. The dispute stemmed from the Fairfax County registrar's decision to set aside those ballots because witnesses failed to include their addresses on the ballot applications as required by state law. The federal absentee form, which can be used in all 50 states, does not provide for witnesses' addresses.

McDonnell issued an advisory opinion Monday concluding that the ballots should be counted because federal law trumps state law in such issues. Republicans supporting presidential candidate John McCain argued last week that the votes should be counted. Representatives for the state Democratic Party and presidential candidate Barack Obama also sent a letter to the board late Monday urging that the ballots be counted.

The Board of Elections moved quickly Tuesday to accept McDonnell's opinion, but board secretary Nancy Rodrigues also defended local registrars who flagged ballots that did not comply with state law.

"I just wish that folks would stop vilifying people for doing their jobs," Rodrigues said.