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Federal Government Asks Illinois Judge To Throw Out Suit That Would Allow Virgin Islanders To Vote For President

Territories

CHICAGO — The federal government is asking an Illinois federal judge to throw out a case challenging how voter rights are extended to the territories, saying the plaintiffs’ issue should be with the state, not the feds, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

Guam resident and National Guard Staff Sgt. Luis Segovia and five others — plus two veterans groups — filed a lawsuit in November 2015 saying they were unconstitutionally deprived of their rights to participate abroad in Illinois elections.

All of the plaintiffs are former Illinois residents.

They have targeted the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and the Illinois Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

Those laws allow military members and overseas citizens to participate in Illinois elections even if they live outside the United States.

However, the law defines the United States to include the territories and commonwealths of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The Northern Mariana Islands, the plaintiffs noted in their complaint, isn’t listed among the other territories and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Ironically, that means if two Illinois residents move out of the state, one to Guam and the other to the Northern Mariana Islands, the one who moves to the NMI could keep their ability to vote absentee in Illinois elections, including the presidential election.

On Wednesday at Central Standard Time, the federal government asked that the case be thrown out, saying the plaintiffs’ issue should be taken up at the state level.

V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this article.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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