Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D Profile picture
Dec 12, 2017 23 tweets 14 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
The child molester running for the U.S. Senate isn't the only weird thing going on in Alabama politics right now. Let's talk about some of that...

Last Thursday, a lawsuit was filed in an Alabama circuit court on behalf of 3 voters (a Republican, a Democrat, & an Independent). They asked the court to order election officials to preserve electronic ballot images from the upcoming #ALSen race.

Alabama uses paper ballots...BUT the paper ballot is not actually what's counted.

Here's how it works: The paper ballot is scanned. A digital image is created. Then, that digital image is used to count your vote.

So, if the #ALSen race is really close (or if there are irregularities) and a recount is ordered, those digital ballot records would be needed — because although the paper ballots show who YOU voted for, they don't show if the machine accurately recorded/counted your vote.

Fast-forward to Monday (yesterday). In the early afternoon, a judge sided with the plaintiffs and ordered Alabama election officials to preserve all digital ballot records from Tuesday's #ALSen race.

But that's not the end of the story.

Just after 4:30pm on Monday, Alabama's Republican AG Steve Marshall filed a motion in the state Supreme Court to stay the earlier order.

i.e., the state filed a court motion to halt the order that required election officials to preserve electronic ballot records.

Why would state officials have a problem with maintaining electronic ballot records from today's #ALSen race?

Republican Sec. of State John Merrill says he doesn't have the authority to maintain those records or to tell local election officials to do so. 🤨

First of all, the Sec. of State routinely directs local officials on matters related to elections. He has the authority. Secondly, maintaining electronic ballot records is not hard. 85% of Alabama voting machines are equipped to do it with the push of a button. Literally.

Voting machines have 3 options regarding the preservation of digital ballot images:
-All processed images
-Processed write-in images only

One of these options must be selected. The Sec of State simply needs to send an email telling election officials which to select.

Despite claiming that he doesn't have the authority to do so, Alabama's Sec of State *did* tell local election officials to select the option to preserve write-in records.

But he says he can't tell them to preserve all digital ballot records from today's #ALSen race.

The #ALSen race is likely to be close, which means a recount is a very real possibility. Because the digital image of the paper ballot (not the ballot itself) is used to tabulate votes, the image would be needed for an accurate recount (& to look for mistakes/miscounts).

Failure to preserve digital ballot images may also violate public records laws. They are basically photocopying a ballot, then using that photocopy to tabulate votes... and then destroying the photocopy that was actually used in vote-counting, but keeping the paper ballot.

Alabama's ballot design has also been called into question. The ballot lets you select 2 ways to vote; if both options are selected, the machine might read it as an "overvote" — in which case it wouldn't be counted.

To resolve this, the digital & paper ballot are needed.

There's no good reason *not* to maintain digital ballot images, and it's extremely concerning that Alabama's Sec of State is fighting to destroy these records.

And that's not all...

Even more concerning than the fact that #Alabama Sec of State John Merrill wants to destroy digital ballot images is the fact that many voters will never cast a ballot in the first place because of voter suppression.

#Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill has admitted that he doesn't believe voting is a right. He believes it's a privilege that has to be earned.

Earlier this year, #Alabama passed a law allowing some ex-felons to vote. These people were told that they could never vote again — and Sec. of State John Merrill decided that he wouldn't make any effort to notify them that they are eligible.

#Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill co-sponsored the state's 2011 voter ID law. GOP state lawmakers didn't even try to hide their intentions. One of them literally told a newspaper that the ID law would dismantle the state's "black power structure."

Then, after passing the voter ID law, #Alabama started closing drivers license offices.

Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters saw their driver license office shut down.

*Every. Single. One*

Currently, it's estimated that about 10% of all registered voters in #Alabama are unable to vote because they lack the required photo ID. African American voters are about 2.5 times as likely as white voters to be disenfranchised by voter ID laws.

Then, after passing the voter ID law and closing drivers license offices, #Alabama shut down almost 200 voting precincts.

This followed the 2013 SCOTUS decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

Of course, voter suppression is a major problem in other states, too. But in #Alabama, the deliberate disenfranchisement of minority voters was literally written into the state's constitution.

#Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill also threatened to prosecute & imprison people for "crossover voting" (voting in the Dem primary & then in the GOP runoff).

Turns out, there's no evidence crossover voting even took place. It was just a voter intimidation tactic.


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