History of the Office of the Secretary of State
The Office of the Secretary of State existed even before Alabama became a state. The first secretary of state, Henry Hitchcock (1818-19) served for the Alabama Territory. The secretary of state served a two-year term from the time Alabama became a state in 1819 until the Constitution of 1901 set the term at four years. Up until 1868, the secretary of state was elected by the legislature, but since that time has been selected by popular vote.
Today, the secretary of state runs on the same election cycle as the governor and may only serve two terms in a row before having to leave the office for at least one term. If a secretary of state resigns or dies, the governor appoints someone to serve for the remainder of the term.
Duties of the Secretary of State
State law gives the secretary of state more than 1,000 different duties and virtually all of them involve processing and filing documents that are public records. Many of the documents must have the Great Seal of Alabama affixed in order to make them official. Some of the duties of the secretary of state are listed below.
- Keeps the Great Seal
- Affixes the Great Seal of the state to all official documents of the Governor
- Serves as the Chief Elections Officer for the state
- Issues certificates concerning records of this office
- Issues commissions to elected and appointed state and county officials
- Prepares extradition papers and warrants of arrest
- Receives declarations of candidacy from all candidates running for public office other than city or county office.
- Keeps original copies of laws and records of both Houses of the legislature
- Receives and distributes all law books published by the state, and keeps records of the distribution.
- Receives all original bills passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor, assigns an act number to each, furnishes a copy to the printer for printing pamphlets and bound volumes, and files them for permanent record
- Keeps a list of corporations doing business within the state
- Registers trademarks
- Records all deeds, leases, and contracts filed for record by any department, agency, commission or public corporation created by an act of the legislature
- Files statements of trust receipt financing
- Keeps a record of all fees and other monies collected for sales and service by the office
- Files a copy of annual reports of each state department
- Keeps a complete record of all lands of the state
- Furnishes copies of any portion of records upon request
- Files the bonds of state officials and employees
- Makes a report at the end of each fiscal year for all activities of the office
- Serves as the secretary of the State Board of Adjustment
- Serves on the State Election Canvassing Board
- Is a member of the Licensing Board for the Healing Arts
- Performs other such duties as may be required by law
- Administers the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code as enacted by the 1965 Legislature