DOJ files statement of interest in Massachusetts absentee voting rights case

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A U.S. Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA, (NEWS10) – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a statement of interest in the Massachusetts Supreme Court to help ensure the voting rights of military members stationed abroad and Americans living overseas. The statement of interest is in response to a lawsuit filed by private plaintiffs which aims to push the absentee ballot receipt deadline for Massachusetts’s upcoming federal primary election back by ten days.

The brief from the DOJ explains that states must send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters who request them at least 45 days before any federal election.

Should the lawsuit succeed, the ballot receipt deadline would be pushed back from September 1 to September 11. Massachusetts needs sufficient time after the September 1 primary election to certify and finalize the ballots so that the local election clerks will be able to send the military and overseas absentee ballots by Sept. 19, which is the 45-day deadline for the November 3, federal general election.

“Our filing reflects the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that military and overseas voters are afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate in federal elections.

We will continue to ensure that the ability of our brave men and women serving in the military and our citizens residing overseas to participate fully in all federal elections is not infringed.”

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband
DOJ Civil Rights Division

In a statement, the DOJ said that the brief is part of their continued efforts to enforce the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

They also claim brief does not take a position on whether or not the ballot receipt deadline should be adjusted or the merits of plaintiffs’ claims. It does note that any adjustment to the ballot receipt deadline should allow Massachusetts time to comply with UOCAVA and avoid the real possibility of disenfranchising military and overseas voters for the 2020 presidential election.

More local election coverage: Your Local Election Headquarters

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