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Military voting bill gets out of House committee

A bill aimed at making it easier for members of the military to vote while serving overseas passed out of House committee Thursday.

Sponsored by local Rep. Jimmy Martin, the bill would offer service men and women more options in receiving and returning their ballots.

Currently, those in uniform must mail their ballots through the U.S. Postal Service. Too often, ballots weren’t received in time to be counted.

House Bill 30 would allow four additional methods of receiving ballots: commercial carriers like FedEx and UPS, a secure fax line, e-mail and secure electronic transmission. Overseas voters would also be able to return their ballots using the same methods, expect for e-mail.

“The men and women that work the hardest to keep our freedoms – including the right to vote – should have their votes counted,” said Martin.

The bill unanimously passed out of the House of Representatives’ Constitution and Elections Committee. It will now go before the entire House for a vote.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who oversees elections in Alabama, supports and helped draft the legislation, along with the Military and Overseas Voting Task Force.

“We are excited our legislation passed the committee. Committee Chairman Jimmy Martin of Clanton has been a tireless advocate for this cause,” said Chapman, in a press release. “I am thankful to him and the entire membership of the committee for their support of this very important bill.”

This is the second year Martin has sponsored the legislation. It was allowed to die on the last day of the 2009 session after Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russelville) added an amendment many politicians felt had nothing to do with military voting.

The amendment would have prevented campaign funds given to a candidate for federal office to be used in a state campaign. Some senators felt the amendment targeted Artur Davis and his campaign for governor.