Montgomery – Secretary of State Beth Chapman sent a letter to the Department of Justice today saying she will not allow her state to enter into another consent decree holding Alabama hostage for the sins of the past.
On October 14th, Sec. Chapman received a letter from the Justice Department threatening to sue her and the State of Alabama if she did not agree to, in effect, enter a guilty plea for her predecessor’s mistakes in not reporting statistics with regard to military and overseas voters in 2004 and 2006.
Chapman said the Federal Government should have much bigger “fish to fry,” during times like these. Chapman also said that Alabama taxpayers should no longer have to bear the burden for frivolous lawsuits brought about by the Federal Government.
This attempt by the Federal Government to threaten Chapman by dangling a lawsuit over her head and holding Alabama accountable for something that did or did not happen in a past administration is an abuse of power. “This is like the local library fining you for an overdue book two months before it is overdue,” Chapman said.
State and Federal law require that this information be reported to the United States Election Assistance Commission after each election and the information is to be provided by the counties. Chapman’s predecessor failed to report such information and upon Chapman’s taking office there were no records available and the Supervisor of Voter Registration position was vacant due to litigation which was started prior to Chapman’s entering office. Therefore, no report was made.
Chapman, who was called on to testify as an expert witness regarding military and overseas voting before a congressional committee, was asked about the lack of statistical information by the committee chairman. Chapman is on record as explaining the lack of information in the past and her commitment to improving compliance in the future.
“As a lifelong Alabamian, I am tired of Alabama being made a mockery of for things that have happened in the past. It is ironic that such a miscarriage of justice would be carried out by what I now call the ‘Injustice Department’,” she concluded.
Since taking office in January 2007, Chapman has taken a number of steps to improve compliance with UOCAVA. Alabama was one of the first states in our country to create a website devoted to providing military access to voting information. In addition, Governor Riley signed an Executive Order drafted by Chapman and her staff that established a Military and Overseas Voting Task Force which Chapman chairs. Alabama is the only state in the nation to organize a meeting in which the only three vendors in the world that perform internet voting provided demonstrations of their capabilities. Also, Chapman was chosen by the National Association of Secretaries of State chose to testify as a witness in a congressional hearing on military and overseas voting.
Chapman has worked on a state, national, and international level in promoting the advancement of the right for military and overseas voters to have a more efficient and effective means by which to cast their votes.