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Secretary of State continues electronic voting system for citizens, service members overseas

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By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama voters living abroad will be able to vote electronically next month thanks to a system set to be implemented by Secretary of State John Merrill’s office.

Merill announced Wednesday that the state of Alabama will use an electronic ballot delivery and return system. It will be implemented during the upcoming Senate Special Election and for the 2018 statewide election cycle.

The system will allow service members deployed abroad and citizens living overseas to return their absentee ballots electronically.

The system will not be implemented without testing. The Secretary’s Office tested the system during the 2015 Montgomery municipal elections, where it was successful. It was also used during the 2016 Presidential Primaries, runoffs and the November 2016 General Election.

The ballot system allows voters to access a secure online web portal to obtain their ballot and return it. The state was the first in the union to implement such a system last year when 83 percent of eligible military service members cast their ballots in Alabama elections — the highest in the nation.

“Through the use of the electronic balloting system, those citizens defending our freedoms, along with other Alabamians abroad, were given the opportunity to fulfill their civic duty,” Merrill said. “We look forward to similar success in the 2017 Special Election Cycle and into the 2018 Election Cycle.”

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Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Merrill said his office does not maintain the polling place lists and that the law requires county officials to post those lists.