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GOP Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Delay Ballot Change Ruling

BY Admin  October 3, 2002 at 1:25 PM EDT

They argue under federal law the overseas ballots should have already been mailed and military personnel from New Jersey will face disenfranchisement if the mailing of the ballots is delayed further. GOP officials have said they will also ask the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and force the mailing of ballots already printed.

Sen. William Frist of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate GOP campaign committee, hand-delivered the appeal to the court in Washington.

Republicans also plan to file suit in federal district court on behalf of overseas military personnel who received absentee ballots. They argue under federal law the overseas ballots should have already been mailed and military personnel from New Jersey will face disenfranchisement if the mailing of the ballots is delayed further. GOP officials have said they will also ask the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and force the mailing of ballots already printed.

The seven justices of New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the substitution could take place despite a state law that prohibits such replacements within 51 days of a general election. Torricelli dropped out of the race with 35 days remaining.

The justices said that allowing the Democratic Party to replace Torricelli was in the public interest and followed the intent of New Jersey election law. But the court said in its ruling that the party would have to bear the cost of reprinting ballots and informing voters who receive absentee ballots of the change.

Republicans have said that the ruling is unfair to the Republican candidate, Doug Forrester, and that it sets a precedent whereby parties can substitute candidates at will based on opinion polls.

Meanwhile, Lautenberg, who was chosen by New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and other state party officials after three other potential candidates, has launched his bid for Torricelli’s seat. Lautenberg spoke before a gathering of 300 union members at the Trenton War Memorial Wednesday night.

Political observers have found the choice of Lautenberg ironic in light of the fact that he and Torricelli feuded openly when both served in the Senate. Torricelli, who is allowed to turn over his estimated $5 – $7 million in campaign funds to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee or the state Democratic Party to be used for Lautenberg’s campaign, has so far refused to do so.