Military Ballots Being Rejected in Virginia
by Connie Hair
Posted 10/24/2008 ET
Updated 10/24/2008 ET

Fairfax County Registrar Rokey Suleman is disqualifying an overwhelming majority of the military federal write-in absentee ballots received in his county on the basis that no address had been given for those witnessing the voter signatures on the ballots. According to Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and four former members of the military who held a press conference on Thursday, over 98 percent of these military absentee ballots in Fairfax County are being rejected.

“The federal write-in absentee ballot is a federally mandated ballot that allows military service members and their dependents to cast an absentee ballot when they haven’t received a [state] ballot before the election,” Herrity said. “For them it’s a safety net. It allows them to vote if the mail truck hasn’t reached his or her remote base in Iran or Afghanistan in time to cast a regular absentee ballot.”

When asked how many ballots had been rejected, Herrity responded, “Out of the 260 military federal write-in ballots received to date, only five included an address for the witness. The other 255 have been set aside for rejection.”

On page two of the Voters’ Declaration/Affirmation-Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) at the very bottom of the form is the signature block for the “Witness/Notary and Address (if required)”. Note the instructions given to Virginia service members, “Block 7: Sign and date in the presence of a witness. The witness must sign and date the form.”

That’s it. No instruction given on any requirement for the witness to give an address. This has resulted in only 2 percent of the military ballots received to date including an address for the witness.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) released a written statement, “The Fairfax County registrar is going to great lengths to register voters in the county jail. It is shameful he is going to even greater lengths to disenfranchise our men and women in uniform.”

Davis is referring to a voter registration drive conducted by Suleman in county detention centers. Calls to Suleman’s Fairfax office resulted in automatically being put on hold. I stayed on the line at one point out of curiosity and was kept on hold for over an hour before hanging up.

Calls to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s office were returned immediately. Spokesman David Clemenson said, “We are aware of this situation and are working to ensure all proper votes cast are counted. We are concerned about all eligible voters but can’t comment further at this time.”

Jailbirds can vote, but Soldiers can't. Glad to see that the registrar knows his core constituencies.