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*** UPDATED x1 *** State Board of Elections: We told him not to do it

Friday, Oct 15, 2010

*** UPDATE *** So, here it is. St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney didn’t mail out absentee ballots to military service members because it would’ve cost him $2 a pop. Sheesh

Delaney, a Democrat, said if he had mailed out the ballots before the court ruling had come down, putting the Constitution Party back on the ballot, “I would have had to redo the whole thing again” — at a cost of $2 per ballot, Delaney said.

* And the Sun-Times looks at the numbers

Figures Illinois election officials sent to the Justice Department on Friday show no evidence of an effort by Democratic local election officials to hold back ballots from Republican-leaning soldiers serving overseas:

• Of the 16,575 absentee ballots requested in Illinois, only 1,832 — 11 percent — have been requested by servicemen and women serving overseas.

• The vast majority of absentee ballots are going to non-military citizens living overseas or who will be out-of-town on Election Day, college students studying abroad, etc. — voters who have no automatic tendency toward either party. And, actually, under the new no-excuse-necessary absentee voting laws, voters need not even be out of town to vote absentee. […]

• Far more Illinois servicemen and women serving in-country have requested ballots – 5,650 – than servicemen and women serving out of country: 1,832.

• Half the absentee ballots requested are being e-mailed and so could be e-mailed back just as quickly.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Remember how St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney defended his decision to mail hundreds of military and overseas absentee ballots 16 days late despite federal law? Well, Delaney now says the State Board of Elections knew about his decision

Delaney said he informed the Illinois State Board of Elections of his decision to delay the ballots’ mailing after receiving an e-mail message several days before the Sept. 18 deadline.

“I told the state what I was doing, the state board knew it,” he said.

But according to the state board’s executive director Dan White, the board told Delaney that he needed to comply with the law. Delaney was told he couldn’t wait for a final court decision on whether the Constitution Party would remain on the ballot. Delaney waited anyway.

“We told him not to delay printing up the ballots and that he had to abide by state and federal law,” White told me this afternoon. “Yeah, we knew, but we also told him what he had to do.”

* I also asked Director White about a report at Breitbart’s Big Government website which is headlined: “Illinois Elections Officials Caught Lying About Military Ballots.” An excerpt

On September 14th, Justin Weinstein-Tull, an attorney at [the Department of Justice’s] Voting Section contacted Dan White, Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections regarding the September 18th deadline to mail military ballots […]

On September 20, Cris Cray, Director of Legislation at the Illinois State Board of Elections, sent this reply to Weinstein-Tull: In response to your request to monitor our local election officials, please be advised that Illinois military and overseas ballots went out between September 3rd (Illinois law) and September 18th (Federal law). From this point forward, all requests received will be mailed out that same day.

White said that the e-mail to DoJ was “based on incomplete information” that the Board had at the time. “We had a helluva time getting information” from the local election boards, White said.

The problem with that story, however, is the board knew that Clerk Delaney was intending to resist compliance by the time that e-mail was sent to DoJ.

* You can read the complete list of election boards that allegedly didn’t comply with state and federal law by clicking here. Most of those were sent just a few days late. St. Clair County was by far the biggest offender at 1,274 late-mailed overseas ballots.

34 counties were late, but White said the Department of Justice is narrowing its focus to just a handful of jurisdictions that were really late, sending out the ballots on Oct. 4th, 5th or 8th. And all but one of those counties involved just a few late-mailed ballots. St. Clair was by far the worst.

* Meanwhile, the state GOP is threatening a lawsuit

Leaders in the Illinois Republican Party are pushing the U.S. Justice Department to extend the deadline for turning in military and overseas ballots. State Chairman Pat Brady said that if the Justice Department does not extend the deadline, he would file a lawsuit in federal court. Chairman Brady said: “if a meaningful extension is not granted, we will file a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of our servicemen and women.”

* And Republican US Senate candidate Mark Kirk held a press conference this morning in St. Clair County with Congressman John Shimkus…

Kirk has jumped on the news that some Illinois counties did not meet a deadline for mailing ballots to soldiers serving overseas. Kirk, a member of the Navy Reserve, calls it a disgrace.

But at a news conference Friday, Kirk didn’t specifically accuse anyone of delaying the ballots for political reasons.

* But Doug Ibendahl notes that the GOP’s hands aren’t clean

As we have reported… it was the Illinois Republican Party’s objection (done under the name of two phony “objectors” recruited by Pat Brady’s operation) to the statewide slate of Constitution Party candidates that caused the delay. Ironically, the Constitution Party’s slate was led by a military veteran: U.S. Senate candidate Randy Stufflebeam. Randy served his country for 22 years in the United States Marine Corps.

Pat Brady should have known that when he backed objections to 23 candidates that there would be a good chance he might infringe on the voting rights of our military personnel. But it’s pretty obvious Brady didn’t care.

The intent of the Republican and Democratic parties in filing objections isn’t just to kick “competition” off the ballot – rather the main purpose is to keep the candidates occupied and to drag out the process. A candidate tied up in court can’t be out campaigning.

* And Greg Hinz reminds us of this

But state elections chief Dan White notes that counties and cities like Chicago can wait until as late as Nov. 16 — two weeks after the election — to count any straggler votes.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:30 pm:

    I find it interesting the didn’t total up the late column.

    Also not sure if I understand the late column,

    If not sent by Sept 18, how many were sent

    Is that the number that were sent late?

    I seem to recall from previous experience if anything was in doubt you sent what you had at the deadline, you did not wait for the courts.


  2. - John Bambenek - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    To be honest, having third-party filing crammed until the last minute before printing ensures they don’t have a real good ability for judicial review.

    More importantly, this is a magnificently stupid unforced error on the Democrats part. We’ll get the votes counted, but a Dem County Clerk wanted to hold everything up to see if the Constitution Party would make the ballot in the hopes to drain a few hundred votes from the Republicans. He made a purely political decision using his official position to try to screw the Republicans and ended up causing a media firestorm.

    Good game.

    Thank you St. Clair County Democrats, this is just one more black eye we’ll be driving home to the voters by November 2nd.

    The PR nightmare is far worse than the impact, but it looks awful and no one likes the image of screwing soldiers out of their votes.


  3. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:51 pm:

    Thank you, Rich, for this fair update to yesterday’s post. It has indeed turned out to be a bigger deal than some thought/hoped. As somebody commented here yesterday, what is the purpose of the state board of elections if not to assure compliance with state and federal election law? Should not at least part of that oversight process include proactive contact with the county clerks’ offices immediately before deadlines–rather than “trying” to get info after the deadlines. The poor oversight as well as the apparent misinformation cavalierly provided to the DOJ should disturb us all.

    Regardless of intent, or whether the ballots were only a few or many days late going out, or whether all the military votes ultimately get properly counted in Nov., this is just one more example of incompetence on which voters will feast their eyes.


  4. - VoterUSA - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:53 pm:

    Wow!, this has more twists then a pretzel factory…all this is going to do is delay the seating of the special senate election seat.


  5. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:55 pm:

    So Ibendahl, a RINO Republican who supported the Constitutional Party efforts to remain on the ballot, with Constitutional Party petitions circulated by RINO Republican Pulido said what?

    Who are the REAL RINO Republicans now, Ibendahl and Pulido? This inquiring Republican would like to know.

    I for one, am sick and tired of these types storming into the GOP and demanding that the GOP conform to their off beat ways and opinions. And those two always blame the GOP for everything.

    It’ a tired act. It’s old. And it is as credible as Giannoulias’ feeling the pain of the average working man. :-)


  6. - PPHS - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 1:58 pm:

    Do military personnel have to request a ballot?

    Sorry, if this has been answered.


  7. - train111 - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:01 pm:

    Good God–with all this nonsensical preelection tit for tat by all the partisan hacks — the next two and a half weeks are going to be an eternity!!

    train111


  8. - Dan Johnson-Weinberger - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:23 pm:

    Well, if operatives or local elected officials want to make sure this doesn’t happen in the 2011 municipal election cycle, they can follow the City of Springfield’s lead and pass an ordinance to protect overseas voters who want to vote in both the February and April elections to use a special ranked ballot.

    Check out www.IncludeEveryVoter.org for details.

    Public Act 95-0889 (relatively new) allows any municipality to protect their overseas voters by passing an ordinance to use a special ranked ballot for their April election and mail that ballot out in December or January when the regular February ballot is mailed as well.

    If you don’t pass the ordinance, there just isn’t enough time between the late February and early April municipal elections for overseas voters to get their ballot and send it back.

    Yeah, I’m shilling for the law I helped write and sorta hijacking the thread, but it’s pro bono, so give me a break!


  9. - Ahoy - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:29 pm:

    The Republican response to all this is just sickening. I think they should support the troops by not making them political pawns. These tactics they are trying to carry out is just pathetic and reeks of desperation. It represents everything that I have come to hate about the Republican party… especially since they have essentially forced me to become one of those independent voters.


  10. - someguy - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:35 pm:

    The decision by most clerk’s to be late wasn’t political at all it was monetary. If the clerk order their ballots to be printed and the some court decided that the Constitutional Party should be on the ballot it would mean all the ballots would have to be reprinted and replacement ballots would have to be sent out again. Most Clerk’s have had their budgets cut and have no money to reprint.

    You also need to realize that the State Board of Elections in reality couldn’t order a local election authority to do anything, they don’t have any power over a county clerk.

    Illinois is also one of only a few states that counts ballots that are postmarked by the day before election day to counted if they are received within two weeks. If you live in another state were ballots went out on Sept 18 but have to be returned by election day than even if the ballots went out a couple of days late than you still have more time in Illinois to return them.


  11. - John Bambenek - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:44 pm:

    Someguy-

    Part of the problem is the election schedule for getting on the ballot, that’s for sure. Heck, indies and third-parties should have same filing deadline as major parties… get it all done at once.


  12. - Ghost - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:49 pm:

    this seems like a tempest in a teacup at the moment. i support extending deadlines to provide time for the ballots.

    on a side note, the gop was touting blowout vote totals. the number of delayed ballots looks to be a few thousand (and those may still all get back in time). The gop folks delaying the process with questionable challenges now seem to be sweating the small number of ballots. the gop doth protest to much, mayhap they fear a much closer race then they have been touting.


  13. - John Bambenek - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 2:51 pm:

    Ghost-

    Surely you know it’s about increasing the bad PR of Dems… It’s a great story to beat your opponents over the head and neck with. The actual impact come election day is minimal. The posturing is to make sure this stays in the news.


  14. - Conservative Veteran - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 3:26 pm:

    Louis, if Ibendahl was a RINO, he wouldn’t have helped the Constitution Party, which is the most conservative party in this state.

    PPHS, yes, military members only get absentee ballots, if they request the ballots. I was in the navy, and I was near Baghdad, Sept. 2004-Mar. ‘05. I voted in the Nov. 2004, Feb. ‘05, and April ‘05 elections because I requested absentee ballots. The majority of the members of my battalion didn’t vote in 2005.


  15. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    I’m glad Breitbart and Drudge are on the case, with their “independent” ally Kirk. Great patriots.

    I guarantee you every soldier’s vote will be counted, because the Obama Justice Department seems to be all over it.

    What’s the underlying premise here? That Democrats want to disenfranchise soldiers? What a despicable statement. Millions of Democrats have served their country, and tens of thousands have died doing so. Of course, they didn’t have the spectacular, adventurous career of Cong. Kirk, International Man of Mystery.

    Does independent Kirk have no game at all? He has to roll with these hateful losers?

    What a lightweight. He’s running against an empty suit who cost the FDIC $350 million and he can’t put him away. He’s got a hell of a nerve to be talking about fighting soldiers, anyway, given his lies.

    Maybe those lawyers he’s sending out to black communities can jigger things so it all comes out all right.


  16. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    Conservative Veteran, when Ibendahl strays from the Republican party along with Pulido and actively support the Constitution party, they become RINO.

    Period.

    They should both know. They have been harshly and falsely labeling good Republicans as RINO for years now. If the shoe fits, and it does in this case, then they wear it.


  17. - El Sargento - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 4:39 pm:

    When I was in Afghanistan during the 09 municipal elections my absentee ballot arrived sometime around April 28th. Mail ballots for overseas military voters are antiquated. We need a better option.


  18. - Dan Johnson-Weinberger - Friday, Oct 15, 10 @ 5:10 pm:

    El Sargento, was that for the February election or only the April election?


  19. - El Sargento - Sunday, Oct 17, 10 @ 7:23 am:

    Dan, It was for the April election. The problem with the system is that we have troops that rotate throughout the theater. I can give you an address to mail me something, but I may not be back there for two months. In the case if the ballot when I had to apply for a ballot I had been in a remote location that got mail about once a week or once every two weeks. By the time the ballot went out I had moved to a huge base. Ballot eventually went to the remote area, only to have to wait to be forwarded to me, by the time it was able to be forwarded I was back at the remote skye, and then the ballot had to be forwarded back out there.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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