U.S. Department of Justice files lawsuit against Michigan over missed military, overseas absentee-ballot deadlines

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Michigan Director of Elections Christopher Thomas named in lawsuit as defendants

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DETROIT - The U.S Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Michigan and it's top election leaders after dozens of communities missed their deadlines to send out absentee ballots to military and overseas voters for the Aug. 7 primary.

Ballots are supposed to provided to military and overseas voters who request them at least 45 days before an election, either by traditional mail or by email.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Michigan Director of Elections Christopher Thomas are named in the lawsuit as defendants.

READ: Federal complaint against Michigan

READ: Michigan preliminary injunction memo

The lawsuit, brought under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), was filed in federal district court in the Western District of Michigan. 

The United States seeks an order requiring the state of Michigan to ensure that military and overseas voters will have sufficient opportunity to receive, cast and return their ballots in time to be counted by extending the deadline for the receipt of ballots from affected UOCAVA voters.  For the Aug. 7, 2012, federal primary election, the suit also requests an order requiring Michigan to provide affected voters who have not received their ballots alternative options for expedited delivery of their ballots. 

"Our armed forces, their families and overseas citizens deserve a meaningful opportunity to fully participate in our nation's elections," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  "This suit seeks relief to ensure that Michigan's military and overseas voters will be provided the opportunity guaranteed by UOCAVA to receive, mark and return their ballots in the upcoming August and September elections."

The lawsuit also seeks relief requiring Michigan to closely monitor and certify its cities' and townships' transmission of UOCAVA ballots and to provide reports to the United States about its UOCAVA compliance, including the transmission of ballots for the upcoming Nov. 6, 2012, federal general election.  In addition, the lawsuit requests that Michigan take the actions necessary to ensure it fully complies with UOCAVA in future federal elections.

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