By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, January 15 the Alabama House of Representatives Constitution, Campaigns and Elections committee met and voted to pass legislation with their recommendation that would change Alabama law so that the deadline for qualifying for an election will end much earlier that it does now under existing state law.
House Bill 62 among other changes would change the deadline for the end of qualifying from 60 days before a primary to 116 days before a primary.
Chairman Randy Davis (R) said that this is a return bill. It passed out of the Alabama House, but died on the floor of the State Senate on the last day of the 2013 legislative session due to Senate filibustering over other legislation.
Rep. Ronald G Johnson (R) from Sylacauga who is sponsoring the HB 62 this year said that passage of HB 62 would bring the state of Alabama into compliance with United States Department of Justice (DOJ) requirements. The DOJ is demanding that overseas voters have more time to receive their absentee ballots and get those turned back in to the state in time for those ballots to be counted. This has been a problem for soldiers who have served in the recent Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rep. Paul Beckman (R) from Prattville said that this is a result of not handling business last year.
Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett (R) said, “This is a bill we really need. I really want to keep our election laws in the hands of the legislature and not in the hands of a federal court.”
Representative Paul DeMarco (R) from Homewood made a motion that the committee pass the legislation on to the full House with a favorable recommendation. The motion carried without opposition.
This year’s deadline for major party candidate qualifying has been moved from April 4th to February 7th. This change was due to an agreement between Sec. of State Bennett and the DOJ.
The bill now has to be passed by the full Alabama House of Representatives. From there it will go on to the Senate which has to pass it for it to go on to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley for his signature.
The Committee also welcomed new member: Representative Adline Clarke (D) from Mobile.