Chapman praises state lawmakers for passage of military voting bill

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman on June 1 praised the Alabama House of Representatives for passing the final version of a bill that would make it easier for military and overseas voters to vote while serving abroad.

Senate Bill 55, created by Chapman and Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, was approved with a 97-0 vote and now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for approval.

The bill would 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.

Previously, 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,” Chapman wrote in a press release. “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.”

The first military and overseas voting legislation was introduced in 2007 and gained momentum each year, Chapman said.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank former Rep. Jimmy Martin,” Chapman added. “He was the one who carried and guided the bill through the process for many years. We have had many advocating on our behalf, and he was one of the earlier among them.”

In the last election, about 1,100 of the approximately 4,800 requested absentee ballots were returned by military and overseas voters, according to statistics from Chapman’s office.

“We will not rest until every ballot requested by members of our military that is voted is returned and counted,” Chapman said. “This brings us one step closer to making that a reality.”