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PENNSYLVANIA: REPUBLICANS ACCUSE RENDELL OF TRYING TO SUPPRESS THE MILITARY VOTE [Chris Lilik 10/26 04:28 PM]
With all eyes on Pennsylvania, all eyes are increasingly on Rendell's handling of the military vote. Angry emails are beginning to circulate regarding Rendell's opposition to extending the deadline for military ballots, and radio talk show hosts are urging listeners to take action.
According to a new Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story, Rendell says that military ballots must be received by Friday to be counted, and only a judge can extend that deadline. Rendell argues "that 65 of the state's 67 counties mailed out their overseas absentee ballots by the deadline of Sept. 20 and that should allow sufficient time for the ballots to be returned to the voters' home counties by Friday." Since Venango and Huntingdon were not sent on time, Rendell says Pa. will pay for those ballots to be express-mailed to troops overseas.
According to the AP, Republican leaders want Rendell to extend the military absentee ballot deadline until November 17th. Last Wednesday a federal judge ruled with Rendell in declining a U.S. Department of Justice request for extra time. The Feds had argued that confusion over Ralph Nader appearing on the Pa. ballot required additional time.
"The men and women who are most affected by who becomes commander in chief, their vote is going to be denied," said state Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-Chester. "If 73 percent of these votes were coming in for John Kerry, she (U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane, a Clinton appointee), would rule the other way and so would Ed Rendell."
Or maybe Rendell simply thinks primary elections are more important than general elections. "In the state's April 27 primary, Rendell successfully sought court orders to extend the deadline for absentee ballots from military families and overseas voters until May 17 — three weeks after the election," writes the AP. "But Rendell spokeswoman Kate Philips said the need then was legitimate. Because of a record number of challenges to nominating petitions, many counties did not mail absentee ballots on time, making a deadline extension necessary."