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Election result security tightened for primary

By MOLLEE BRELAND, Alabama Daily News

Alabama is attempting to secure its election night reporting from all 67 counties.

County probate offices will use for the first time Tuesday state-supplied computers to report and transmit election results. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said his office spent about $247,000 to get the computers to each county for election night reporting.

 “These computers are designated for this use and only this use,” Merrill told Alabama Daily News.

“… We are adding a level of accountability, transparency and integrity to the process by ensuring that only those individuals who are supposed to have access to the reporting mechanism will have access to the reporting mechanism.” 

BirminghamWatch reported last week that the change had Jefferson County Probate Judge James Naftel worried about a possible delay in results reporting. There will not be any results released until all precincts have reported and all results are in, he said.

Merrill said he doesn’t expect reporting delays because of the centralized computer system.

“The probate judges do not have to wait until all the data is received before they begin uploading,” Merrill said. “Results will be updated throughout the night on our website. We should not see a delay and we should receive the updates at the normal standard practice and we anticipate we should have everything in by the evening of May 24 like usual.” 

Merrill said the change from county owned computers was not prompted by any specific incident or breach.

“What we are doing now is ensuring that that will not happen,” he said.

There are 3.6 million registered voters in Alabama, Merrill said, and he expects a turnout of 28% to 30% Tuesday in the high-profile U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries.

With 3,640,606 registered Alabama voters, Merrill said he expects a 28-30% turnout next Tuesday. Turnout in the 2018 primary, which did not include a U.S. Senate race, was 25.6%.


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