Candidate qualifying deadline moved to ensure military voters get ballots in time
In a necessary move that could put a strain on the state’s two major parties, Secretary of State Jim Bennett announced today that the close of qualifying for the 2014 election cycle will moved up to February 7th, just over a month from now.
This is much earlier than usual as the Secretary of State’s office is working to comply with federal laws concerning military and overseas voters. The abrupt change is due to ongoing litigation with the Department of Justice over military and overseas voting deadlines.
The original date for the end of qualifying for major party candidates would have been April 4, 2014, but that would potentially not allow enough time to get finalized ballots to some military voters overseas soon enough.
“Though we do not have yet an order from the court, we have agreed with the Department of Justice to move our deadlines up considerably to get ballots to the Absentee Election Managers in each county,” Secretary of State Bennett said. “This will allow ballots enough time to be sent to military and overseas voters well before the federal deadline, which is 45 days before the date of the election.”
The Secretary of State’s office said in a statement that they have been in constant contact with the heads of the Alabama Democratic and Republican parties in an effort to prepare them for the change.
Secretary Bennett said he has urged the parties to adapt and open qualifying for candidates early.
“We are doing everything in our power to make sure that our soldiers have their ballots in hand and can mail them back in time for their vote to be counted,” he said.
The Secretary of State’s office tried to pass a bill last year in the legislature that would alter the elections deadline schedule to reflect this end date for qualifying. The bill passed unanimously in the House, but failed to pass the Senate due to time constraints caused by Democrats filibustering almost every piece of legislation that came behind the Alabama Accountability Act.
“We are bringing the bill again this year. I know that the legislative leadership has every confidence that this will be passed for future elections and that we will all do our part to ensure that every vote counts, including military and overseas voters,” Bennett said.
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