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March 23, 2009
Chapman, Task Force Urge Legislature to Pass Military Voting Bill

MONTGOMERY - Secretary of State Beth Chapman released a report to Governor Bob Riley and members of the Legislature today from the Military and Overseas Voting Task Force formed last year. The report included legislation which has since been tweaked and introduced in the House by Representative Jimmy Martin of Clanton.

 

“After a year of working together the task force is presenting legislation in a unified voice by unanimous vote to the Legislature to pass,” Chapman said.  “We have done our work and now we call on the Legislature to do theirs, to pass this legislation and give our military members a more efficient and effective way to cast their votes.”

 

Chapman called upon Governor Bob Riley last year to sign an Executive Order creating a task force from various entities to study this important issue. Riley created the task force and assigned Chapman, the state’s Chief Election Official, as chair. Chapman thanked Riley for his cooperation and support and praised the job of Representative Jimmy Martin as the leader of this legislative effort.

 

During the past year, the task force has hosted representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, elections officials from the State of Florida, and the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters, as well as the Overseas Vote Foundation.

 

The Task Force legislation, House Bill 711, will give military and overseas voters additional ways to vote including mail, commercial carriers such as UPS and Fed Ex, a secure fax line, email, and secure electronic transmission.  The bill will also authorize overseas voters to return their ballots via the traditional means except email.

 

Alabama was one of the first three states to implement a form of on-line voter registration via the Overseas Vote Foundation and is the only state, to date, to host (in one central location at the same time) the only three companies who currently provide secure internet voting in other countries.  The task force was the fortunate beneficiary of that historic meeting. Each of the companies demonstrated their programs before the task force and that meeting was open to the public.

 

The task force also hosted Pat Hollarn from Okaloosa County Florida who was the only person to test internet military voting in the United States in the most recent Presidential Election via a pilot program with kiosks set up in three different countries. It was a most successful effort that Chapman believes Alabama can emulate if the Legislature will pass House Bill 711.

 

“The military deserves the right to vote as much as or more so than any other citizen in our state.  The task force and I call on the Legislature to pass this legislation and give our men and women in uniform a more convenient and expedient way to vote,” Chapman said. “To fail to do so would be disenfranchising the very ones who protect our right to vote.”

 

To encourage your legislator to vote for House Bill 711, call toll free at 1-800-274-VOTE and ask to be transferred to the Legislature or visit www.sos.alabama.gov to sign a petition asking the Legislature to pass this military and overseas voting bill.

 

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For more information, visit Secretary of State Jim Bennett’s Web Site:  http://www.sos.alabama.gov/