Legal Memorandum: Controlling Date for an Absentee Ballot in MH

Issue: Whether the controlling date for an absentee ballot is the date at the place of mailing that must comply with a specified postmark time requirement or whether it is the local date in the jurisdiction whose law is being construed that must be met.

Area of Law: Constitutional Law
Keywords: Controlling date; Absentee ballot
Jurisdiction: Federal, Marshall Islands
Cited Cases: 916 A.2d 1015; 117 Nev. 531; 397 Md. 331; 415 Pa. 154; 261 A.2d 515; 295 A.2d 390; 46 N.J. 3; 931 P.2d 363; 26 P.3d 753; 202 A.2d 538; 120 N.J. Super. 583; 308 Md. 286
Cited Statutes: Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 41
Date: 11/01/2008

Rule 41 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure defines “Daylight” as “the hours between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. according to local time.”  See, e.g., Conscoop-Consorzia Fra Cooperative Di Prod. E. Lavoro v. United States, 159 Fed. Appx. 184 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (unpublished)  (a bid protest case in which the court held that the terms within the bid solicitation that required submission of price proposals by 1400 hours “local time” was clear and unambiguous and “can only be interpreted as 1400 hours Naples [Italy] time”).  See also Nev. Min. Ass’n v. Erdoes, 117 Nev. 531, 26 P.3d 753 (2001) (containing a rather metaphysical discussion of “time” and time zones in the context of construing the term “Pacific standard time” in the Nevada Constitution and stating: “We are not free to presume that the framers of the durational limit and those who enacted it meant anything other than exactly what they said.”).

It seems that election officials routinely accept a foreign ballot so long as the postmark of the country of mailing shows a date within the prescribed time limit.  If it does not show such a date, the officials reject it, as illustrated by Lamb v. Hammond, 308 Md. 286, 518 A.2d 1057 (Md. App. 1987) (rejecting three foreign ballots postmarked the day of the election at Army Post Office outside U.S. even though instructions mailed with ballots were ambiguous; statute required mailing before election day).

With respect […]

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