Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall is suing the Northern Virginia local of the American Postal Workers Union to require it to hold a new election of officers.

According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, 64 of the local's 600 members were not given mail-in ballots during the election held from March 25 to April 15.

In that election, a president was elected by a 21-vote margin and the director of industrial relations won by a margin of two votes, according to Jerome Davis, an attorney for the Department of Labor.

A defeated presidential candidate filed a complaint with the union the day after the election on grounds that all members were not given ballots, according to court records. But the union election committeee said there was no basis for his complaint, according to local President Joseph F. Tordiff.

An appeals committee of the union's national governing body upheld the local's finding and the candidate appealed to the Labor Department.

"I'm not saying there were or were not members who didn't get a ballot," Tordiff said. If there was an error in balloting "it was for administrative reason," such as an error in recording-keeping. Davis said, "There's no evidence it was done intentionally."

Marshall is seeking to have the election voided and a new election held.