The state’s election board sent a letter to former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign announcing the board will not go to the courts to ask for an extension for some absentee ballots to be turned in.
The letter comes after the Government Accountability Board announced this week that 37 absentee ballots to overseas and military voters were sent out past the required deadline.
This prompted a response from the Romney campaign, which told the board there should be an extension in the deadline for those voters to return their ballots.
“I am writing to express my concern regarding your office’s attention to the voting rights of men and women in uniforms, and to urge you to take immediate action to correct recent violations of military voting rights,” the Romney campaign told the GAB in a letter.
President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign agreed with Romney that it was important to see whether the voters were being denied their right to vote, United Council Governmental Relations Director Analiese Eicher said. She assured all votes would be counted.
GAB sent a letter Wednesday to the Romney campaign saying the late ballots were all sent out in time for their ballots to be sent back in and counted.
The board cannot extend the deadline by itself and can only do so with a court order, which it said it is “not inclined to seek” because of the facts it currently has regarding the ability to return the ballots on time. The board also noted absentee ballots would be counted if clerks receive them before 4 p.m. Nov. 9, three days after the election.
According to the GAB letter, out of the state’s 1,851 municipalities, only 27 did not send a total of 37 ballots out in time. Military and overseas voters’ ballots must be sent 45 days before an election under federal law.
“The Legislature and our office have developed a number of redundancies in the absentee voting process to address possible breakdowns that may occur,” the letter said. “This includes the three-day statutory extension for counting absentee ballots, electronic transmission of ballots for military and overseas voters as well as a newly developed online ballot delivery program that went into effect for this election.”
The website for that delivery program is myvote.wi.gov, which also contains information on elections for all voters.
The GAB told the federal Department of Justice immediately about the issue, which requested the board ask three of the voters whether they had enough time to send the ballots back.
The letter explained some reasons the ballots were sent late, a substantial one being most clerks work part-time and have other jobs. In two municipalities, a candidate’s death caused ballots to be reprinted. Two other places had technical failures that delayed the printing.
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck agreed all the ballots would be counted and said those voters will have a voice in this year’s elections. The late ballots were an accident and “shouldn’t anger anybody,” according to Heck.
“It was not deliberate,” Heck said. “The GAB will learn from it. They usually do a really good job.”