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.
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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