MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- Secretary of State Beth Chapman is pleased the Alabama House of Representatives has passed the final version of a bill to make it easier for military and overseas voters to cast their ballots while serving abroad. Senate Bill 55 was approved by a vote of 97-0 and now goes to the governor for his approval.
SB 55, created by Secretary Chapman and sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, allows military and overseas voters three additional ways to return their voted ballots, including fax, commercial ground or air carriers such as UPS and FedEx, and secure electronic transmission. Until now, ballots could only be returned by hand delivery or U.S. mail.
"This is a great victory for our military men and women in uniform," said Secretary Chapman. "Now, the very people who are fighting for our right to vote at home can more easily cast theirs from abroad. No one should ever be disenfranchised, especially those who fight to defend our right to vote in the first place."
"I want to thank Senator Gerald Dial for his leadership in the Senate and Representative Ron Johnson who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. Both Dial and Johnson worked very hard to guide this important legislation through the legislature. I also want to thank the members of both the House and Senate who made this victory possible."
The first military and overseas voting legislation was introduced in 2007 and continued to gain momentum each year. "I would be remiss if I didn’t thank former Representative Jimmy Martin. He was the one who carried and guided the bill through the process for many years," said Chapman. "We have had many advocating on our behalf and he was one of the earliest voices among them."
According to statistics released by the Secretary of State’s office, approximately 4,800 absentee ballots were requested by military and overseas voters in the last election, but only about 1,100 were returned. "We will not rest until every ballot requested by members of our military that is voted is returned and counted. This brings us one step closer to making that a reality."