digital vote (MaxxiGo/Shutterstock.com)

Alabama allowed to discard digital voting records

Alabama will not have to keep digital voting records following the special election that resulted in Democrat Doug Jones being elected to the U.S. Senate, according to a Dec. 12 report in AL.com.

The day before the election, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ordered that digital images from electronic ballots would have to be preserved, but the Alabama Secretary of State filed for an emergency stay that was granted by the state's Supreme Court.

The Alabama Secretary of State argued the circuit court lacked the authority to tell districts what to do, but the plaintiffs in a suit to force officials to preserve the digital records argued the court was already telling local offices how to handle elections. Additionally, keeping the electronic images of the ballots would be important if there were to be a challenge to the results, the plaintiffs told the AL.com on Tuesday.

The case is set be heard in court on Dec. 21.

According to Secretary of State John Merrill, the state does not preserve the digital ballot images, but it does maintain the original paper ballots. "The records for federal elections are required by law to be preserved for 22 months after the election occurs," he told AL.com.

Concerns around election tampering have taken center stage since the Department of Homeland Security alerted states that Russia had targeted several state-level election systems in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, support for risk limiting audits of elections systems has grown. These audits require keeping both electronic and paper versions of votes in place in case there are issues with the software used for vote counting.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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