updated 10/29/2004 11:09:52 AM ET 2004-10-29T15:09:52

Under pressure from military voters and Republicans, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell said Friday that he will ask a federal judge to extend the deadline for counting overseas ballots by one week.

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Rendell told a news conference in Philadelphia that Republicans could produce only one voter — out of 26,000 overseas military and civilian voters — who failed to get the absentee ballot he requested.

Nonetheless, “Even if it’s just one or two votes, their votes should be counted,” Rendell said.

GOP state Sen. John Pippy, an Army reserve captain who served in Iraq, criticized Rendell’s proposal, saying the governor asked for — and received — a nearly three-week extension for counting absentee ballots in the April primary and should support a two-week extension now.

A Republican-financed federal lawsuit by two servicemen in Iraq and Kuwait filed Wednesday against Rendell and Secretary of State Pedro Cortes seeks a 15-day extension for their ballots’ return.

Rendell said one of the plaintiffs’ ballots was delivered to the address he put on his absentee ballot request form. He said there was no explanation why the other plaintiff never received an absentee ballot.

“There may have been a (mistake) in the mail. But it’s not widespread,” Rendell told CNN on Friday.

A hearing on the federal lawsuit was scheduled for Friday before U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane, and Rendell said his lawyers would ask that ballots postmarked by Tuesday, Election Day, be counted until Nov. 9.

Rendell had initially resisted asking for an extension. Thousands of callers have jammed phone lines at the governor’s office in recent days over the question.

Rendell had requested the extension during the primary because of a large number of challenges against nominating petitions that delayed the distribution of absentee ballots.

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