Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett Tuesday released the certified rules for Alabama's new voter photo ID program which will go into effect for the June primaries in 2014.
The release and website posting follows a 35-day public comment where his office received and considered 51 proposed comments in the preliminary rules filed in June.
"We gave each of them thoughtful consideration and did make some revisions," Bennett said. "We also met with various legislators, voter groups, senior citizen organizations, disabled citizens and nursing home administrators to gather their input."
The free voter ID process should begin as soon as January after a vendor's contract is finalized and election officials are trained.
Rule revisions added provisions of the U.S. Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act that provide an exemption for elderly and handicapped voters who vote absentee and cannot get to their regular voting places due to a disability. They still must attest to the fact that they are the person who is filing for the application.
The Alabama Legislature mandated the voter photo ID requirement two years ago to replace a list of 26 previous forms of identification, which ranged from everything from a fishing license to a utility bill. That rule was adopted in 2003.
Some 34 states—including Alabama—now require a form of photo ID at the polls from a driver's license to a government-issued photo card. Free photo ID cards will be provided by the state for any voter not having one already.
If voters have a driver's license, a government-issue photo ID, passport, student or employee photo card issued by a public or private college or university, the military card or an Indian tribal card containing a photograph, they need not apply for a voter photo ID. They must, however, show such examples at the polls.
For those who need them, free voter photo ID cards can be obtained at the Board of Registrars or the Secretary of State's Office in Montgomery. Additionally, they may obtain a non-driver's photo identity card from any Public Safety Department. New voters can register the same day they apply for their photo ID cards at the office of voter registrars.
[DOCUMENT: Photo voter ID rules (.pdf)]
The Alabama Department of Senior Services, which has approximately 367 outlets around the state, will also provide photo ID cards to senior citizens and homebound voters needing them who are clients of the agency.
In addition, special voter photo vans will fan out across the state visiting city halls, libraries and other public places at times to be announced to provide free voter photo ID cards.
Bennett said the state will engage in an extensive voter education campaign on how to obtain free voter photo ID cards on television, radio, print media and billboards early next year.
"We want to make this process as easy as possible on applicants while guarding against voter fraud at the same time," he added.