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Illinois agrees to help overseas voters

Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:13PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:13PM  |  
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Military and overseas absentee ballot voters are more likely to be able to participate in the special election to fill the vacated seat in Illinois' 2nd congressional district, as the result of an agreement reached between the Justice Department and Illinois officials.

The primary will be Feb. 26 and the special election will be April 9. The election fills the seat of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who resigned from Congress in November.

The agreement, reached Jan. 10, requires that by Jan. 15, the state will ensure expedited transmittal of ballots to military voters — whether stateside or overseas, including family members — and citizens living overseas to all those who have requested an absentee ballot by that time.

Certain provisions of Illinois law prevent election officials from sending absentee ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days prior to these elections, as is required by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, according to the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on Jan. 10 in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The agreement, which must be approved by the federal district court, also requires that by Jan. 31, Illinois officials resolve any candidate petition challenges and ensure expedited notice to military and overseas voters of the final list of candidates for the Feb. 26 primary. Voted ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 25 and received by March 6 to be counted.

In addition, under the agreement, for both the primary and the special election, Illinois will provide all military and overseas voters the option of returning their marked ballots by email, fax or express mail, at no expense to the voter.

For the April 9 special election, the state will ensure expedited transmittal of ballots by March 8 to all military and overseas voters who have requested them. Voted ballots must be postmarked by April 8 and received by April 23 to be counted.

Information about requesting absentee ballots is available at www.fvap.gov.

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