By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The 2014 election cycle begins officially today as candidates can now formally qualify for the 2014 elections.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced on Friday that he will formally qualify for re-election on Monday at Republican Party Headquarters. Similarly Sixth District Congressional Candidate Dr. Chad Mathis (R) announced via email that he will also formally qualify today.
On Friday, January 3 the Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Bill Armistead, announced that the Party’s Steering Committee has set qualifying dates for all statewide candidates in the 2014 election cycle. Qualifying will begin Monday, January 13 at 9:00 AM at Alabama Republican Party Headquarters which is located at 3505 Lorna Road in Hoover.
Chairman Armistead also announced that the ALGOP staff will be in Montgomery on Wednesday, January 15 to provide an opportunity for candidates in the Montgomery area to qualify locally. More information on the location and time that the ALGOP staff will be available later today.
Many county parties are following suit and are moving local qualifying up.
St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell wrote, “Qualifying starts this Monday, January 13th and will end on Friday, February 7th.” Talladega County Republican Party qualifying also begins today, January 13.
The Shelby County Republican Party wrote, “As you may have heard, the deadline for candidate qualifying has been moved up from April 4 to February 7, 2014. The opening date for Shelby County candidates is Thursday, January 16, 2014. Between January 16 and February 7 we will be conducting qualifying for our county executive committee members.”
Candidates for local office need to contact their County Party Chairs to find out when local qualifying begins.
Talladega County Democratic Party chair Stephanie Engle announced, “The Talladega County Democratic Party has just learned that the Department of Justice, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General have mandated a change in candidate qualifying dates in Alabama.” The original qualifying dates were slated to open on Feb. 1 and close on or about April 4.
The Alabama Democratic Party now states that candidate qualifying will open on January 13 and close on Feb. 7.
These moves come after Secretary of State James Bennett (R) announced that he had moved the qualifying deadline up to February 7th from April 4th.
If you were thinking about running for a state office this year you have less than 25 days to make up your mind and get all of your qualifying papers turned in to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office. Local candidates need to turn their qualification papers to their county party.
This change will not affect the June 3, 2014 qualifying deadlines for independent candidates and candidates of minor parties. This will apply to anybody running for office as a Republican or a Democrat.
The move settles a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of U.S. servicemen stationed all over the world. With an April fourth qualification date, it would have been difficult to qualify the candidates, prepare ballots for every polling place in Alabama, then get those absentee ballots to our troops in remote corners of the world, them fill out their ballots, and then mail them back to our soldiers in time for those ballots to be counted on election night.
Secretary Bennett said, “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. 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…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.”
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.
The Secretary of State’s office had asked last year for the legislature to change the elections deadline schedule to reflect this end date for qualifying. That bill passed unanimously in the House, but timed out in the state Senate due to time constraints and last day filibustering by the Democrats, who were trying to block more controversial bills.
Secretary Bennett said, “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.