Lawmakers to debate bills on election security

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:23 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers say they want to improve election security. They’re going to debate two bills on the topic. SB9 would mandate the use of paper ballots. SB10 would ban electronic voting machines that connect to the internet.

Everyone involved agrees there were no widespread election or voter issues in Alabama in 2020 or 2022. Supporters say these bills will keep things that way. Opponents say it’s going to cause unexpected problems.

“It’s fixing a non-problem. The other thing is you are impacting people, citizens of Alabama, who need to be considered,” said Kathy Jones with the League of Women Voters of Alabama.

Jones is concerned about the consequences for people with disabilities who use express vote machines at a polling place or can’t fill out an absentee ballot themselves.

“If they’re not able to go to the polling place, that pretty much limits you,” said Jones. “There are technologies that are being looked at that are secure. This bill would make it where you could not consider any of those options.”

Bill sponsor Senator Clyde Chambliss says anything can cause problems with digital data.

“If it was just digital, you may have a, you know, computer error, a malfunction, or you may have a lightning strike power failure,” he said.

Both pieces of legislation still allow for electronic vote-counting machines, but none connected to the internet.

“We know that there are people that can hack into machines and do things,” said Chambliss. “But if there is no ability for machines to be connected to any type of Bluetooth, cellular, any type of internet connection, then they don’t have that pathway to get into the machine.”

Secretary of State, Wes Allen, supports this legislation.

“We want to make sure we put that in state law and to further strengthen that to give the public the sense that they can have confidence in our elections,” said Allen.

Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Baldwin County, will carry this bill in the House.

These bills did pass through the senate last year but did not get a vote on the house floor.

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