Martin’s voter bill passes House

Published 9:02 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

Internet voting could become a reality for some Alabama residents overseas as soon as 2010 — if a bill can clear the Alabama Senate.

The measure, which passed the House Thursday, would make Alabama one of the first states to allow members of the military and their families to apply for absentee ballots and cast their votes online.

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Jimmy Martin, was pleased with the progress.

“This has been about two years in the works,” Martin said Thursday. “It was a lot of give and take.”

The bill had been introduced before but not in its current form. After it failed last year, Martin worked with Secretary of State Beth Chapman to simplify the bill, and it gained more support.

Expediting the voting process for military members and others overseas is the bill’s primary goal. This would include those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. A secure Internet connection would ensure that all votes are counted on time, whereas mailed ballots might not.

“Before, some didn’t get their absentee ballots until after the election,” Martin said.

He hopes to have the system in place by the 2010 state election. As with any legislation, however, getting past the Senate is a major hurdle.

“We’ve got to wait until they get through with their filibustering,” Martin said.