Democrats Filing Suit Against Secretary of State

The State Democratic Party plans to sue the Secretary of State over access to an updated list of registered voters. State Party Chairman Joe Turnham claims Beth Chapman is holding back information that's vital to the Democrats' campaigns. He says, "We've been through this process with the secretary of state now for months with no resolution."  That's why Turnham says the party had no choice but to sue Chapman.

Turnham claims Chapman refused to provide the Democratic Party with its free updated voter registration.  He says, "We need to know who is registered and who is not registered so we can contact those people who are not registered in the next 30 days and encourage them to register. We are flying blind because we don't know who those people are and we are entitled to it."

Turnham says, by law, the party is entitled to an updated list after every statewide election. Democrats got the first list in April, but were told a second list would cost them more than $28,000. Turnham says that's too much compared to other states. WSFA 12 News checked with neighboring states and found that Florida charges $10, Georgia $500, Tennessee $2500. "This is a list of name that are in a computer. It is not like they have to go out and harvest this over a 100 acre field," said Turnham.

Secretary of State Chapman says, without seeing the allegations against her, an on-camera interview was not in order. However, she did provide WSFA 12 News with a copy of a letter she wrote to Turnham explaining that she believes the state law provides for only one free list a year. Here's how the law reads: "The secretary of state shall furnish one copy of the computerized list free of charge to each political party that has satisfied the ballot access requirements for a statewide election within two weeks of the date of a written request. Turnham says, "I'm not selling toothpaste; I'm trying to sell democracy. That's why she exist; that's why we exist."

Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard says he agrees with Chapman's decision and adds republicans received one free list last year and one this year. Democrats expect their lawsuit will be filed by the end of the week. Turnham says he also plans to write the Department of Justice Voting Rights Division over concern about the delay in processing voter registration applications across the state.