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Feds’ OK of waiver request will help state’s military voters

by Brian Zylstra | August 27th, 2010

We’ve received word from the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice that they approved our state’s request for a waiver of a federal law’s “45-day rule” in which states are supposed to mail ballots to military and oversea voters at least 45 days before Election Day.

“Washington’s elections officials care deeply about our military voters and are fully committed to doing everything we can to ensure each has an opportunity to vote,” said State Elections Director Nick Handy.

“We appreciate that the Department of Defense looked at the totality of Washington’s program for military and overseas voters and agreed that Washington’s program meets and in many cases exceeds the intent of federal law,” Handy said.

“Washington’s military voters can actually vote on Election Day and still get a ballot back in time to be counted since Washington does not certify the election until 21 days after Election Day.  In other states, voters must vote and mail the ballot weeks before Election Day.

“Washington’s 52-day transit time for military and overseas ballots exceeds most state programs that only allow 45-day advance mailing,” Handy added.

Washington’s waiver approval is attached here.

The state’s waiver request is attached here.

UPDATE: The Department of Defense has issued this news release on the waivers granted to Washington and a handful of other states.

From the DoD release:

“The states granted waivers presented thorough and comprehensive plans to protect the voting opportunities for military and overseas voters,” said Bob Carey, director, Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).  “In each case, we determined that the combination of measures presented provide military and overseas voters sufficient time to receive, mark and return their ballots so they can be counted, and thus met the requirement for receiving a waiver under the MOVE Act.”

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