Military voting still on the table in the legislature
The bill, House Bill 711, is sponsored byJimmy Martin and has since been modified since the task force unanimously approved the draft legislation in January.
Secretary of State Beth Chapman has been pushing military voting for awhile now and I've been covering the task force meetings for the last year. Chapman, her staff and the task force have modeled their bill on one used in Okaloosa County, Florida that conducted the nation's first electronic voting pilot last year.
The task force has also heard presentations from leading online voting vendors and officials with the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the Overseas Vote Foundation and the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters.
It's impressive work and most, if not all, military officials support the idea of online/electronic voting to make it easier for them in deployed locations, or even overseas posts. The traditional absentee process is slow, Chapman says, and doesn't allow military voters the time needed to cast their well earned ballots.
That's something a recent Pew Study backed up. The report found that many states didn't allow military voters enough time to cast their ballot and that the process in many states needs adjustment to do so.
The proposed legislation will give military and overseas voters additional methods of voting, including mail, commercial carriers like UPS and Fed Ex, secure fax lines, e-mail and secure electronic transmission, like the kiosks used in the Florida pilot program. The bill would also allow overseas voters to return their ballots by those methods, except e-mail.
I'll have updates after the meeting tomorrow morning. The Constitution and Elections Committee meets at 9 a.m. in room 603 at the State House.