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Republican John McCain's presidential campaign sued the Virginia election board Monday, claiming absentee ballots weren't mailed on time to military members serving overseas.

The complaint asks the U.S. District Court in Richmond to order the state to count absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday and received by Nov. 14. It contends that thousands of troops' ballots — many of which would go to McCain — will not be counted.

The deadline for ballots to be received is 7 p.m. Election Day, which is Tuesday.

The lawsuit is the second in a week to challenge preparations for the presidential election in Virginia, where Barack Obama hopes to become the first Democrat since 1964 to win the state's 13 electoral votes. Polls over the past week show him about even with or slightly ahead of McCain.

More than 436,000 new Virginia voters have registered since Jan. 1, and about 500,000 people — a tenth of the state's electorate_ have cast absentee ballots.

The NAACP sued the state last week, alleging it allotted too few voting machines for the enormous number of voters in majority black precincts expected to be drawn by the prospect of electing Obama as the first black president.

U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams on Monday declined to order longer voting hours and other changes requested by the NAACP. He did order the elections board to publicize the availability of curbside voting for older or disabled voters and the fact that people in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

A hearing on McCain's lawsuit is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday before Williams.

That lawsuit alleges that ballots for overseas military voters were mailed too late to ensure they are returned by the deadline. Defendants are the chairwoman, vice chairman and executive secretary of the state elections board.

A 1986 federal law requires ballots to be mailed to military voters in foreign countries at least 45 days before the election, which this year would have been Sept. 20. The lawsuit alleges the state didn't have the ballots printed and sent to local officials by then, meaning they may not have been mailed overseas until October.

Ashley L. Taylor Jr., an attorney for McCain, said tens of thousands of oversees military absentee ballots could be voided unless the deadline is extended.

"The last thing you want is to have a service member in Afghanistan or Iraq who received his ballot too late not being able to vote in this election," Taylor said.

Board Chairwoman Jean Cunningham said late Monday afternoon the board had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.


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