updated 10/13/2004 5:45:24 PM ET 2004-10-13T21:45:24

The Department of Justice has sued Pennsylvania elections officials in an attempt to give overseas voters two more weeks to cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election, according a published report.

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The suit, filed Tuesday in Pennsylvania, contends the state failed to send out ballots in time due to a legal dispute over whether they should list independent candidate Ralph Nader, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Pennsylvania officials said Tuesday that they would fight the lawsuit, arguing that they will help overseas voters by offering overnight deliveries of ballots or allowing them to fax their completed ballots.

"We are confident that no voter overseas, whether military or civilian, will be left out of the election," Kate Philips, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ed Rendell, told the Times.

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Department of State advised county officials that they should not send out absentee ballots listing Nader until the courts determine whether he's allowed on the ballot. A ruling on that issue came Wednesday.

Similar legal disputes involving Nader and late primaries kept officials in at least eight of the nation's 15 swing states from being able to mail absentee ballots by Sept. 19, the date by which officials say ballots would have had to be mailed in order to be returned on time.

Of those states, Ohio and Washington have already extended their deadlines for overseas voters by 10 days or more.

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