Secretary of State Jim Bennett announced today that the close of qualifying for major party candidates in the 2014 election cycle will be February 7th, 2014 at 5:00 PM.
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. This change is part of 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. This change will not affect the June 3, 2014 qualifying deadlines for independent candidates and candidates of parties that did not receive more than 20 percent of the entire vote cast in the last general election.
“Though we do not have yet an order from the court, we have agreed with the Department of Justice to move our deadlines up considerably to get ballots to the Absentee Election Managers in each county,” said Bennett. “This will allow ballots enough time to be sent to military and overseas voters well before the federal deadline, which is 45 days before the date of the election.”
The Secretary of State’s office has been in constant contact with both chairs of the Alabama Democratic and Republican parties to let them know that this change would occur. Secretary Bennett said he has urged the parties to open qualifying for candidates early in order to account for this change.
“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,” said Bennett
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. That bill passed unanimously in the House, but failed to pass the Senate due to time constraints.
“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,” said Bennett.