“Controversy swirled over the mechanics of the Alabama Senate election after the state supreme court intervened at the eleventh hour to give election officials a green light not to preserve electronic ballot records that could form the basis of a recount.”
A court in Montgomery, the state capital, issued an injunction on Monday afternoon ordering election officials around the state to preserve digital images of the ballots cast by Alabama voters..
But the supreme court stayed that injunction almost immediately following a protest lodged by Alabama’s chief election official, the secretary of state, John Merrill. Voting rights experts denounced the ruling as a blow to transparency in a state that already has a flawed vote recount procedure and a somewhat checkered history of questionable election outcomes that the state’s senior officials and courts have allowed to go unchallenged. “There’s no legitimate reason not to preserve ballot images,” said Christopher Sautter, a veteran Washington election lawyer who helped the plaintiffs in the case. “It’s neither expensive nor inconvenient. It amounts to flipping a switch.”
Injunction issued DON’T save the the electronic ballots.
Alabama law does not provide for a manual recounts, only a machine recount of the digital images that are taken at the time each ballot is cast. If those images are then destroyed, there is no easy way to verify that they were read and counted correctly.
“I don’t understand why the state does not want to preserve them. That doesn’t make sense,” said Marian Schneider of the national advocacy group Verified Voting.
Voting rights experts denounce ruling that gives election officials permission not to preserve electronic ballot records as blow to transparency
Priscilla Duncan, the lead plaintiff in the case, noted with some amazement that the secretary of state’s protest was lodged with the supreme court at 4.38pm and the justices came back with their ruling at 5.18pm. “It’s just unbelievable that they examined the pleadings and got eight judges to concur in half an hour on a Monday afternoon,” she said.
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