Alabama Secretaries of State
Secretary of State: 1993-2003, 2013--2015
Jum Bennett was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to the post on July 31, 2013.
Initially appointed on May 18, 1993 by then-Governor Jim Folsom to a vacancy in the Secretary of State's office, he won a full term in his own right in the statewide elections of 1994.
Jim Bennett won re-election to a second full term as Alabama's 49th Secretary of State November 3, 1998 after having emerged as the leading Republican vote-getter among all races in the June primaries.
Secretary Bennett served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State from 1999 to 2000 and previously served as southern regional vice-president and as chairman of the organization's standing committee on elections and voter participation.
Before his current elective position, he spent 15 years in the Alabama Legislature, both as a member of the State House of Representatives and State Senate representing the Homewood area of Jefferson County from 1978 to 1993.
Bennett worked as an award-winning state capitol reporter for The Birmingham Post-Herald in the 1960s. He received a B.S. degree from Jacksonville State University and a M.A. degree from the University of Alabama. He was a member of the Board of Trustees at Jacksonville State University and serves as chairman of its committee on athletics. He was the JSU Alumnus of the Year for 1994.
Secretary Bennett was married to the former Luan Atkins of Birmingham and has two grown children, one step-child and three grandchildren. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood.
During more than two decades of public service in the Legislature and as Secretary of State, Jim Bennett developed and led a long line of important campaign reform initiatives. Some of those efforts include:
The Fair Campaign Practices Act: Alabama's campaign financial disclosure law that requires disclosure by candidates of contributions and expenditures. It passed in 1988.
The Voter File Maintenance System: A comprehensive voter identification system designed to cross-check duplicate registrations county-by-county and provide up-to-date information to local registrars regarding felony convictions and deaths. Passed in 1989, the Voter File Maintenance has helped counties computerize their voter files.
The Voter Postcard Verification System: A comprehensive yet simple voter identification program that, through the use of mailed postcards to voters, provides Alabama in the 21st century what it has not had for the 20th Century: clean, accurate voter lists. Names of more than 175,000 dead or relocated voters were removed from the state’s voter rolls through this program in 2001 and 225,000 others updated their residence information. This legislation passed in 1995.
The 1994 Absentee Voting Reform Act: A major reform to Alabama's absentee voting procedures, meant to curb manipulation of mailed absentee ballots. Among other provisions, the act ended the practice of sending multiple absentee ballots to a common address. Absentee ballots now must be sent to the residence of the voter. The act provides, for the first time, a system of voting for people with medical emergencies and unexpected business travel and for employees working a 10-hour shift coinciding with polling hours.
Jim Bennett died on August 17, 2016.
Source: Office of the Secretary of State