MONTGOMERY - Secretary of State Beth Chapman is hosting an open meeting on Military and Overseas Voting Thursday, June 19th in the State Capitol Auditorium from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
Chapman chairs a task force created at her request by Governor Bob Riley to research and study military and overseas voting and potential ways to make their voting process more convenient and timely.
“We have members of our military laying their lives on the line everyday to protect a right they don’t always get – the right to vote,” Chapman said. “If anyone deserves to participate in a democracy, they do, and we are working hard to ensure that they do.”
Chapman says the present system is not fast enough to keep up with members of the military as they move from location to location and in foreign lands. In the 2006 general election, more than 70 percent of all military and overseas ballots reported not counted was due to the fact these ballots were returned to local election offices as undeliverable.
Chapman and her staff sent out more than 3,000 Requests for Information (RFIs), across the country. After reviewing them, the task force met in April and made the decision to invite three companies who are already assisting the military in other countries to vote via the internet to demonstrate their technology.
Chapman has invited all Task Force members, Probate Judges, Circuit Clerks, Registrars, members of the military, Alabama National Guard, the League of Women Voters, faculty of Colleges and Universities, members of the media, political scientists, members of the House and Senate, and all interested parties to attend. Chapman wants to ensure that the public knows they are invited to attend, as well.
“This is a transparent and open process of information gathering regarding the level of technology that is available to us,” Chapman said.
Alabama laws would have to be changed in order to utilize the programs that will be demonstrated, but Thursday’s meeting is the first of many plans to come to reach that point. Chapman says when laws are passed, Alabama will be ready to implement immediately.
Chapman encourages members of the military and their family members to attend, as well. “We need all the input we can get to best help our military now and in the future,” Chapman concluded.
Alabama has already been a forerunner in the area of advancement for military and overseas voting, becoming one of only three states in the nation to provide a more accessible means for those who are eligible to register to vote while overseas. Chapman was also asked to give exclusive testimony on behalf of the National Association of Secretaries of State before the House Administration Committee on the subject of military voting in April.