Alabama First to Offer Online Military Voting, Space & Rocket Center Is Top Tourist Attraction

Mar 1, 2016

The state of Alabama is taking part in Super Tuesday and the SEC primary election today, and some of the ballots being counted this year are a little special.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office teamed up with America’s armed services to make Alabama the first state in the country to accept online votes from military members deployed overseas. Election officials tested the system out with Montgomery’s municipal election last year and they say it’s ready for Super Tuesday.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says voting for deployed soldiers used to be a hassle.

“We’ve had electronic ballot delivery for several years, where our military personnel could receive their ballot overseas, but then they had to print out their ballot, and then they had to return it through the U.S. Mail, to hope that it would be received at the point of origin in time for their vote to be counted.”

Merrill says the soldiers’ ballots are now submitted and received securely online, and the votes are counted instantaneously.

In 2015, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center was ranked Alabama’s #1 tourism attraction.

It surpassed some of Alabama’s favorites like the Birmingham Zoo and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. More than half a million people visited the Rocket Center just this past year.

Tim Hall is the Vice President for Business and Media Initiatives at the Space and Rocket Center. He says the Space and Rocket Center is attracting people from all over the country.

“Alabama is now a destination point. People don’t just stop off here because they are traveling somewhere else. They’re coming here specifically to visit the Space and Rocket Center.”

Hall says that the Space and Rocket Center offers activities for people of all ages and that there is always something new to learn and see because the exhibits change all the time.

Forecasters say widespread thunderstorms are expected during the afternoon as Alabama residents head to the polls to vote in today's primary elections.

The National Weather Service says some of the storms this afternoon could be severe. Damaging wind gusts are expected to be the greatest threat.

The national Storm Prediction Center has placed most of Alabama under a slight risk of severe weather. The southeastern portion of the state will be at less risk for severe storms.

Alabama’s Secretary of State’s office is projecting 38 to 40 percent of registered voters to cast ballots Tuesday. Secretary Merrill says that's a strong showing for a primary election in Alabama.

Seats in the U.S. Congress, the state Supreme Court and many other posts are on the line as Alabama voters decide which candidates will move on past the state's primary election.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Shelby is seeking a sixth term. He faces a crowded five-way Republican primary race for that seat.

Four of Alabama's six Republican incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives also face primary challengers from within their own party. Democrats have no contested House primary races.

Current Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker has to defeat GOP challenger Donna Beaulieu to keep his seat on the state Supreme Court. None of the other justices drew any primary opposition.

Alabamians will also vote for state school board members and on an amendment to create a new retirement system for judges and district attorneys.