Alabama refused to provide a current voter list to the state Democratic Party unless they paid $28,000 for a DVD, an item worth which costs at most $5. At the time, Pennsylvania – a state with a larger population – charged $20 for the same thing. New Hampshire charged just $25. The voter list provides public accountability as to who can vote, and is one of four key transparency requirements for election system integrity.
According to a Sept. 24, 2008 NBC-13 News report:
Alabama Democratic Party Suing Over Cost of Voter List
The Alabama Democratic Party is planning to sue Alabama’s Republican secretary of state.
Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham says state law requires the secretary of state to give the two major political parties a free copy of the state’s voter registration rolls for each election. Secretary of State Beth Chapman says her office interprets the law to provide one free list a year. The Democratic Party got a free list in April, and now the secretary of state wants more than $28,000 for an updated list.
State Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard said Chapman is doing the right thing and he has no complaints.
Turnham said getting the list is important for contacting the thousands of newly registered voters before the election Nov. 4.
TRANSPARENCY PRINCIPLES IN THIS REPORT:
Four areas must be transparent for an election to be accountable to the public:
1. Who can vote (voter list)
2. Who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list)
3. Observable vote count
4. Observable chain of custody
Cost principles: Freedom of information requires reasonable public accessibility to documents. Extreme pricing practices create public records that may be notionally legal, but which are in practice, inaccessible, violating the underlying purpose of the law.
PEOPLE IN THIS REPORT:
Joe Turnham – (AL) – Chaired the Alabama Democratic Party (2005-11, and earlier from 1995-98). Ran unsuccessfully for U.S. congressional seat in District 3 (1998); Ran again in 2002, lost by a 0.39% margin. On Board of Directors for Democrats for Life of America, a PAC that seeks to elect pro-life Democrats. Employment: a business development consultant for a Contract Sales, Inc., a family business. Joe Turnham is the son of former Alabama State Rep. Pete Turnham. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Turnham
Beth Chapman – (AL) – a former Republican Alabama Secretary of State; (2007-2013); Election controversies: obstructed access to voter lists through price-gouging (2008); Ethics controversies: personal charity received state funds during her tenure (2008); Though not illegal, paid tens of thousands in campaign funds to immediate family members (2006). Career path: Appointments Secretary for Gov. Fob James (1995-96); Press secretary for Lt. Gov. Steve Windom (2000-01); Elected state auditor (2002); served as state auditor (2003-07); Elected Secretary of state (2006); served as sec. state (2007-2013); resigned as sec. state July 13; took a position with Alabama Farmers Federation, an agricultural lobbying organization. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_Chapman
Mike Hubbard – (AL) – a Republican state representative as of 2014, and Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives; from the 79th district (Lee County), first elected in 1998. Was House Minority Leader (2004-2010); Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party (2007-2011). Election controversies: became involved in an unsuccessful partisan attempt to remove 35 House Democrats to a lawsuit seeking to remove 5 Democratic state senators from the ballot for failure to file campaign forms timely; the effort was partisan in that it failed to name Republican representives who committed the same transgression. Business career: an Alabama media mogul, owns four radio stations, a quarterly magazine, and an advertising agency.
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Election transparency: Election transparency is the public ability to see and verify each essential step in elections, the essential steps being: (1) who can vote (voter list), (2) who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list), (3) counting of the vote, and (4) chain of custody. Reasons for transparency with sources: http://blackboxvoting.org/transparency/
All Black Box Voting stories related to election transparency: http://blackboxvoting.org/category/election-transparency/
Freedom of Information (FOI laws) – allow public access to data held by government, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. Also called open records or sunshine laws. Governments are bound by a duty to publish and promote openness. Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_information_laws_by_country