BRATTLEBORO - The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the Vermont Secretary of State's Office alleging it mailed out 191 absentee ballots after the Sept. 22 deadline.

According to vtdigger.org, DOJ alleged the Secretary of State's Office failed to send more than 20 percent of absentee ballots to military service members, their families and U.S. citizens living overseas by the federal deadline. Overseas ballots must be sent within 45 days prior to an election.

The federal agency is seeking a 10-day extension for all absentee ballots to be counted in Vermont, effectively extending the deadline for the vote count to Nov. 16 and the official certification of votes in the General Election until Nov. 23, according to vtdigger.org.

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, said in a statement: "Our armed forces, their families and overseas citizens deserve a meaningful opportunity to fully participate in our nation's elections. We are filing this lawsuit to ensure that Vermont's military and overseas voters will be provided the full 45 days guaranteed by UOCAVA [Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act] to receive, mark and return their ballots in the upcoming November general election."

The Justice Department says the Secretary of State's office didn't issue the General Election ballot via email in PDF format until late on Sept. 20, a Thursday, according to vtdigger.com.


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The case alleges that the Director of Elections Kathy Scheele was aware that many town clerks' offices are closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Secretary of State Jim Condos told vtdigger.com "The Secretary of State's Office did its job, it got the ballots to the town clerks. I'm not throwing the town clerks under the bus. Not every town clerk works five days a week. Some may not have been in the office to receive the email."