ESGR committee honors ChapmanPublished 4:19pm Thursday, July 7, 2011
By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer
Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman was honored Thursday afternoon for helping to make it easier for U.S. military overseas to vote.
Alabama’s ESGR Committee presented her with its “Above and Beyond Award,” the second-highest award a state Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee can bestow.
ESGR surprised Chapman with the award after her keynote address at the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce’s annual summer picnic at the Alabama 4-H Center.
The award recognizes employers at the state and local level who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements for granting leave and providing support for military duty by their employees.
Dr. Marvin Copes, the state’s ESGR employer outreach director, said Chapman fits that description.
“I would like to thank Beth Chapman for what she’s done,” Copes said.
Chapman and state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, created Senate Bill 55, which was approved by state legislators and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley.
It will allow 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.
“After three years of fighting a legislature that has now changed, thank goodness, we have passed military voting laws that will expedite the military’s ability to vote oversees,” Chapman said.
She said other states are copying Alabama’s legislation.
“It was our legislation and other states took it and passed it, and I’m glad they did,” Chapman said. “It’s very nice now to have this Alabama. It’s something tough. It’s going to be a challenge. A lot of technology way about my head that we’re going to have to go through to get there, but we will.
Chapman stressed that overseas voters would not be voting on the Internet. Instead, she said, ballots will be sent overseas electronically instead of by mail, which can take six to eight weeks to get overseas.
“We’re cutting six to eight weeks off the process,” she said.
The South Shelby chamber was also honored with an ESGR award.
The chamber received the “Seven Seals” award for its support of military men and women and for sponsoring a 2010 Veteran’s Day parade.
During her keynote address, Chapman praised law enforcement and military men and women, saying she felt “inferior” to stand before them. More than 20 law enforcement officers attended.
“I’ve been to 14 countries,” Chapman said in closing her speech for the patriotic-themed picnic. “America, on its worst day, is still better than any other country on Earth.”
Everybody at the picnic received a free copy of Chapman’s book “The Power of Patriotism: The Speech Heard Around the World.”