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Merrill Releases Update on Electronic Ballot Project for Overseas Voters

By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, October 13 Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced that the Secretary of State’s Office in cooperation with the City of Montgomery successfully piloted a live electronic balloting system for overseas military and civilian voters during the recent Montgomery municipal runoff election on October 6, 2015.

Sec. Merrill said in a statement, “We want every military serviceman and woman that are interested in voting to have the opportunity to receive their ballot electronically, vote electronically, and have their ballot returned electronically, as well as have their vote cast and counted just as they would if they were at home with their family.  Our goal is to have this successful pilot project go statewide before the March 2016 Presidential primary. It is incumbent upon us as election officials to leverage technology wherever we can to facilitate the voting process, especially for voters like our members of the military who sacrifice so much in service to our country. I want to thank the City of Montgomery for allowing us to pilot the electronic balloting system in its recent election.”

This system provided Montgomery municipal voters who are living overseas an opportunity to have instantaneous participation and secure access to the voting process as established by Alabama law. This pilot project is a step toward planning full implementation of the electronic balloting system for Alabama’s military and civilian voters who are outside the territorial limits of the United States.

The Alabama Overseas Voting Advisory Committee determined that absentee balloting for overseas voters could be conducted by a secure process. Electronic balloting will help Alabama residents who are deployed overseas with the U.S. armed forces as well as other Alabama citizens residing overseas to have immediate access to their absentee ballot and bypass the postal dilemmas of the past that may have discouraged participation in the process.

With the implementation of this electronic balloting pilot program, Alabama becomes one of the first states to employ an entirely secure electronic voting system.

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The voter still has the option of whether they would like to use the traditional mail system or use the electronic option for receiving and returning the absentee ballot.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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