The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz because 85 Town Clerks failed to send absentee ballots to the military and uniformed officers oversees in time for Aug. 8 primary. In order to see that the voting rights of the men and women serving the United States are not violated, the lawsuit that is being called an “agreement” between the state and federal government, seeks to keep the final ballot count open until Aug. 25. Bysiewicz said Thursday she sought the help of the feds after her office began to survey the towns and found that about 85 of the 169 municipalities failed to get the ballots out in time.
She said since she has no power to hold the election open until all the oversees ballots are returned she contacted the federal government who stepped in and did its own survey of the towns. “I have no statutory authority to hold elections open beyond 8 p.m. on August 8th to assure that these ballots are all counted. In the event that late-arriving military absentee ballots could change the outcome of the elections, I am joining with the Department of Justice in their efforts to keep the primary open through August 25th,” Bysiewicz said in the press release. “I am committed to assuring that every ballot cast by overseas servicemen and women will be counted. The press release stated that Bysiewicz’s office sent out four different letters to Connecticut Town Clerks reminding them of this law and to make sure the necessary absentee ballot forms were sent out to military members stationed overseas. However, as many as 75 towns still did not send the ballots out prior to late July, “which raised the possibility of those ballots not arriving home by August 8th and not being counted.“As of Friday, July 28 the federal government surveyed 95 of the 169 municipalities and identified 650 qualified oversees voters, the lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday states. Municipal election officials in these 95 towns sent out 290 absentee ballots by July 11, or 28 days before the primary. There were 360 ballots sent out after July 11, according to the lawsuit. The ballots sent out after July 11 were sent expedited through the U.S. Postal Service or commercial carriers. What does this mean for the candidates. It means if the U.S. Senate contest is within about 650 votes, there will be no clear winner in what pollsters have pegged as a close race between incumbent U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and challenger, Ned Lamont.