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Voter bill stuck in committee

Three bills sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Martin, all of which pertain to voting, have seen some action in the Alabama Legislature.

The most widely publicized of the bills would allow members of the military to vote online while overseas.

The bill — House Bill 30 — has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee.

“The main one I’m pushing at this time is the military voting bill because that does more than all of these other bills combined,” Martin said.

The bill died in the 2009 Legislative Session after Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) added an amendment to prevent campaign funds given to a candidate for federal office to be used in a state campaign.

The amendment was controversial among state senators; some felt that the amendment targeted gubernatorial candidate Artur Davis.

Bedford serves on the Senate Rules Committee, where the bill is being held, but Martin seemed confident of the bill’s passage.

Based on current law, the only way military members may return ballots is through U.S. mail. Unfortunately, the ballots do not always arrive on time to be counted.

The proposed new law would allow ballots to be delivered via commercial carriers, fax, e-mail and secure electronic transmission. All of these methods except e-mail could be used by overseas voters.

Martin is also working on a measure to omit the names of domestic violence victims from the computerized statewide voter registration list.

A third bill would authorize voter registration via the Internet. The Web site would be maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Meanwhile, Sen. Hank Erwin is sponsoring a bill to grant permanent hunting licenses to disabled veterans in the state. The licenses, once issued, would be continuously valid with proof of permanent and total disability.

The bill has passed the Senate and is moving through the House.

“This is a way we can reward our veterans, especially the wounded warriors with challenging disabilities,” Erwin said. “We are grateful to them for their service. This is a little bit of a way we can say thanks for serving.”

For the unofficial status of any bill in the Alabama Legislature, visit the following link and click on “bills”: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/acaslogin.asp.