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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two servicemen serving in Iraq and Kuwait filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking a 15-day extension for the return of overseas ballots.
Spc. Steven J. Reitz and Spc. Matthew J. Schramm sued Gov. Ed Rendell and Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortes, asking the federal court in Harrisburg to order the additional time and have the decision published for those serving in foreign countries.
Reitz is from Franklin and Schramm is from Schwenksville. The lawsuit said both men gave their parents power-of-attorney authority to file for them.
The legal challenge to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's nominating petition caused delays in sending out absentee and overseas ballots. The lawsuit seeks to extend the deadline for sending them back from Tuesday to Nov. 17.
Rendell administration officials say they have not found evidence that state residents serving overseas have not received ballots. The Associated Press obtained an internal administration memo dated Wednesday that described how Rendell and others in recent days asked Republicans, including Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, for details about their claims that servicemen and women were in danger of being disenfranchised.
The Republican officials did not produce the evidence, according to the memo from Rendell deputy chief of staff Adrian R. King Jr.
At an afternoon news conference he called in the Capitol, Santorum asked Rendell to join in the effort to seek an extension. He did not directly answer questions about who should be blamed if the votes of soldiers, sailors and airmen are not counted.
In Pennsylvania, overseas ballots are mailed by county elections offices. The lawsuit accuses Rendell and Cortes of failing to "implement and execute the distribution" of overseas ballots according to federal and state rules.
According to a preliminary review of the plaintiffs' ballot application records, the administration found that both men were sent absentee ballots by their county elections offices within the past month, said Kate Philips, Rendell's spokeswoman. Reitz's ballot was sent by express mail on Oct. 13, and Schramm's was sent by regular mail on Sept. 21, she said.
The lawyer who filed the lawsuit, Matthew Dunham of Harrisburg, declined to comment and referred questions to Republican Party officials.
"What I don't understand is the harm of asking for two more weeks," said Senate GOP aide Drew Crompton. "We know the counties were pushed to the limit because of the suit, because of the Nader situation."
Rendell chief of staff John Estey said Rendell remains open to "credible evidence" of servicemen and women not receiving ballots.
"We want every military and overseas ballot to be counted, but we also have an obligation to uphold the law," Estey said.
Let the convicts and felons vote...make room for the illegals....and bring out the dead....but our servicemen and women???? Fugetaboutit! This is why liberals are so full of sh!t!!!!!