Dems settle lawsuit with Sec. of State's office

Peering through a courtroom door as Secretary of State Chapman makes her case.
Peering through a courtroom door as Secretary of State Chapman makes her case.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A lawsuit filed by the Alabama Democratic Party against Secretary of State Beth Chapman's office has been settled.

Democratic state party officials filed the lawsuit in September saying state law requires the Alabama Secretary of State to give political parties one free copy of the state's voter registration list.

The Democrats received a free list in April but Chapman's office wanted more than $28,000 for an updated list. A check by WSFA 12 News of surrounding states found that Alabama's fee was higher than Georgia ($500), Florida ($10) and Tennessee ($2,500).

Joe Turnham, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, told WSFA 12 News in September that the party had been in negotiations with Chapman's office for months with no resolution.

He said the party needed the updated list because, "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."

The problem stemmed from wording in Alabama's law regarding the matter which states: "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. "

Chapman's office claimed the law implied one free list per year while Turnham insisted it was one free list per statewide election.

On Thursday both sides reached an agreement outside the courtroom.

Chapman says she'll give both the Democrat and Republican parties a free, updated voter registration list by the close of business.