House panel OKs some overseas Internet voting

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama House Committee has approved a bill that would allow some Alabama residents overseas to cast their ballots over secure Internet connections.

The House Constitution and Elections Committee on Tuesday approved by unanimous voice vote a bill that would change the way voters overseas request ballots and cast their votes.

That includes military personnel fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are definitely thrilled with the progress that the bill made today and we are hopeful that the progress will continue," Secretary of State Beth Chapman said.  "The Military and Overseas Voting Task Force worked extremely hard and has found a champion in Representative Jimmy Martin who understood how necessary it was to get this bill out of committee and on to the next step," she continued.  "I am grateful for the support of Representative Martin, the Task Force, and the entire Constitution and Elections Committee on this important issue for members of our military."

The bill also allows Chapman to test such a system in the 2010 state elections.

Chapman said the system would first be tested at sites overseas where there is a large U.S. military presence like Heidelberg, Germany or Okinawa, Japan.

The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jimmy Martin of Clanton now goes to the full House for debate.

Members voting in favor of the bill today were Representatives Jimmy Martin, Barry Mask, Jay Love, Mary Moore, Chad Fincher, James Gordon, Tommy Sherer, Micky Hammon, Patricia Todd, Joseph Mitchell, and Jack Page.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)