SPN MacIver Institute 2012 National Think Tank of the Year
Facebook Twitter RSS Email

UPDATE: Error Still Online
Website Error Put Wisconsin Military Ballots At Risk

Comments | Posted in News | By MacIver Institute | Posted September 25, 2012 1:56 PM

Federal Website Had Military Ballot Deadline Error for Wisconsin Voters

MacIver News Service | September 25, 2012 Updated and corrected 7:15pm

We will have updates on this breaking news story throughout the day

[Madison, Wisc...] Despite assurances to the contrary, the Federal Voting Assistance Program website still is publishing an incorrect deadline for the return of military ballots in Wisconsin. As a result of this error, thousands of Wisconsin servicemen and women could be disenfranchised in this key swing state this November.

The FVAP website incorrectly stated ballots must be returned by November 16. The actual deadline is 4 p.m. November 9. Any military ballots received in that intervening week would not have been counted by local and state election officials.

MacIver News Service contacted the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board about the error on Tuesday and requested comment.

"All Wisconsin absentee ballots are due by 4 p.m. the Friday after the election. The FVAP site was incorrect," said Reid Magney, GAB spokesman in an emailed response to the inquiry.

As of 7:15pm central, parts of the website's Wisconsin section still contained the incorrect November 16 date.

See top grey box in this screenshot from the website (click graphic to enlarge).

FVAP Screen shot 2012-09-25 at 7.14.38 PM.png

Ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, which in 2012 is Tuesday, November 6.

According to their website, The FVAP provides U.S. citizens worldwide a broad range of non-partisan information and assistance to facilitate their participation in the democratic process - regardless of where they work or live. The FVAP also administers the Federal responsibilities of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which designates armed forces recruiting offices nationwide as voter registration agencies allowing eligible U.S. citizens to apply for voter registration, or apply to change voter registration data.

This is not the first issue with military voting to arise in Wisconsin.

For the first time since 1946, the Primary election was held in August here. Previously, primaries for state office and the President were held in September. 

State officials changed the law to move it to the second Tuesday in August this year so Wisconsin could comply with a federal law that is supposed to ensure military and overseas voters enough time to vote by absentee ballot. 

Even so, during the Presidential Primary, the GAB had to get a "federal consent decree" to allow more time for military ballots to be counted after 65 clerks failed to send out absentee ballots to military voters in time. 

One Afghan War Veteran told MNS 10 days (the time between the postmark and delivery deadlines originally listed on the FVAP site) is more than enough time for mail to get from Afghanistan to Wisconsin. However, it is highly unlikely for a letter to get from there to here in a mere 3 days, which is what would need to happen if a military voter sent his ballot in on Election Day.