Judge Already Orders Alabama Not To Destroy Voting Records

Lester Mason
December 13, 2017

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill reports that the projection he released of 25 percent voter turnout is on track to be an accurate prediction.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Roman Ashley Shaul granted a preliminary injunction directing counties to set voting machines "to preserve all digital ballot images". "Even if we could go to the Eleventh Federal Circuit [Court of Appeals] and file before midnight, they are unlikely to do anything in order to allow the images to be preserved".

The cost to address the situation would have little cost.

Four Alabama voters sued in an effort to get ballot images preserved, according to AL.com, arguing that state and federal law requires election officials to preserve the digital ballot images for six months.

The request comes too late to be applied to this election. By the time Sautter and the Alabamians his legal team represent get their day in court, state election officials will likely have certified the victor of Tuesday's Senate race.

The Alabama Supreme Court received a motion to block the judge's order from Merrill's office. The court ordered briefings in the case to begin within 14 days.


Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, whose office, argued the case on behalf of the Alabama Secretary of State, issued a statement Tuesday night about the case.

"As a result of defendants' failure to comply with Alabama's public records law, digital ballot images used for tabulating votes and possible post-election adjudication will be destroyed following the December 12, 2017, special election for United States Senate in Alabama", the suit said. "If there's ever an election challenge you need to have what was actually counted".

"The ballots you vote on, which is the only thing you can do to have your vote count in Alabama, are preserved for 22 months after the election, secured under lock and key", Merrill said.

"In the long run, we can win on the principle [of preserving digitized images of every paper ballot vast] for 2018", Sautter said. It's very important because the paper records are not what's counted.

Indeed, as Pima Levy has written for Mother Jones, Merrill has taken a heavy-handed approach to making voting harder during his tenure, which is stark contrast from his stance on Monday that he has no power to preserve ballot images.

"To change them, as the plaintiffs seek, would not mean simply flipping a switch, but would require the third-party vendor, Elections Systems and Software, to travel to 2,000 voting machines around Alabama to change them". This process could not be completed in a day.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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