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GOP senators urge push for states, counties to get ballots to troops

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • GOP lawmakers call for enforcement of military absentee mailing rules
  • Senators' letter urges "immediate legislation to enforce voting rights law"
  • Survey: 2 of 14 states, and 13 counties, failed to meet mailing deadline
  • Among offenders: Connecticut and New Mexico; 7 counties in Alabama

Washington (CNN) -- Several Republican lawmakers Wednesday urged Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately force states and counties that missed the deadline for mailing military absentee ballots to act promptly to ensure men and women in uniform can vote in time for the November election.

By law, military ballots were to have been sent by September 18. The senators, led by Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, insisted the Justice Department "initiate immediate litigation to enforce voting rights law -- otherwise many service members will not receive ballots in time," the GOP letter said.

The letter comes two days after the independent Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project informed the Justice Department that a survey of 14 states found two states and 13 counties had failed to meet the 45-day deadline prior to the election.

Sessions and fellow minority members of the Judiciary Committee said "any further delay will result in widespread disenfranchisement of our troops."

Monday, a Justice Department official briefing lawmakers said 20 lawyers in the department were dedicated to monitoring compliance with the ballot requirement.

The partial survey by the MVP Project found widespread failures by election officials in Connecticut and New Mexico to mail military ballots by the deadline. The counties found to be in violation are Alabama counties Coffee, Jefferson, Limestone, Marshall, Montgomery, Morgan and Pike; Arkansas counties Hot Spring and Miller; Nevada counties Elko and White Pine; and Yolo County, California; and St. Joseph County, Indiana.