Friday, June 4, 2010

Governor Signs Bills Increasing Ability of Georgia's Military and Overseas Voters to Cast Ballots

Governor Sonny Perdue singed (June 2) into law two bills, House Bill 665 and House Bill 1073, which increases the opportunity for Georgia’s military members and other overseas voters to participate in state elections.

Governor Perdue and Secretary Kemp were joined by HQ Command Coordinator Otis Womack, Maj. Helen Duggan, Sfc. Michael Cornelius, Sgt. Irvin Balfour, Sr., Spc. Roger Hillegas and Capt. Nicholas Williams from Fort McPherson; State Representatives Mark Hamilton, John Meadows, and Bob Bryant; State Senators Jim Butterworth and John Douglas.

“As I’ve had the privilege to visit with some of our troops stationed overseas, they always remind me that it’s the little things about home they miss the most. The things that we sometimes, frankly, take for granted,” Governor Perdue said. “It’s so important to protect one of the most unique and cherished privileges of our great democracy.  It is a right that was won and is supported daily by our men and women in uniform.”

Secretary Kemp added, “One ballot cast by a member of our military that is not counted due to slow mail service or a missed deadline is one too many. These bills increase Georgia’s commitment to our men and women in uniform, who fight to protect our Constitution and our freedoms, by providing them additional opportunities to vote and fully participate in our elections.”

House Bill 665 establishes a pilot voting project that allows overseas and military voters to cast their ballots and have them received by local election officials in time to be counted. One method is to establish kiosks where voters cast their ballot, and the ballot is transmitted to the Secretary of State’s office or the voter’s county via a secure online network. Currently, Georgia’s overseas and military voters may only submit their absentee ballots by mail.

HB 1073 strengthens Georgia’s compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act – or MOVE Act.

Among the features in this bill:

• Absentee ballots must be sent to overseas voters 45 days prior to a general primary or general election,

• Increased access to absentee ballots for an entire election cycle, and

• Allows absentee ballots to be emailed to military and overseas voters.

Brian Kemp was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.
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