Those who were considering a run for state office in Alabama this year have had to make up their minds lots earlier than expected. Secretary of State Jim Bennett has set Feb. 7 as the close of qualifying for major party candidates, which is about two months earlier than usual. According to reports, the earlier date is part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure military and overseas voters have time to receive and return absentee ballots. The Department of Justice had sued Alabama over the issue of absentee voting access by people living overseas. Jim had this to say about the change:
We are doing everything in our power to make sure that our soldiers have their ballots in hand and can mail them back in time for their vote to be counted. This will allow ballots enough time to be sent to military and overseas voters well before the federal deadline, which is 45 days before the date of the election.
I hear that this earlier date has caused some scrambling by political party staff and also by potential candidates. Both the Democratic and Republican parties opened qualifying on Jan. 13. This means that candidates will have to file their paperwork in less than a month’s time.
Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley says she would have preferred a later end date for qualifying, but that Democrats “can live with this date.” Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead observed that procrastinators will have less time to delay a decision. It doesn’t appear that there is a great deal of interest in elections at this juncture. Things on the political front have been very quiet. Hopefully, that will change now that the qualifying will have started. The dates set by the two parties for qualifying does not affect independent candidates.
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