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New election security measures could delay results on primary night

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 11:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Primary elections will take place on May 24, but this year we may be waiting longer than usual for results. That’s because of new security measures from the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.

Voters won’t notice a difference. You’ll go in as usual and cast your ballot. These new changes happen after the polls close.

To enhance election night security, flash drives or data sticks from each ballot counting machine will be downloaded onto an election reporting management computer for the results. The ERM computers aren’t connected to the internet and not Bluetooth compatible. Secretary of State John Merrill says this new procedure will prevent tampering from outside sources.

In Jefferson County, there are 175 voting precincts. Each precinct has at least two voting machines, so the county has over 400 of the flash drives that will need to be downloaded onto two of the ERM computers located in Birmingham and Bessemer. That means reporting the results may take longer than normal. Those results are then sent to the secretary of state’s office.

“Rather than having that kind of real time feel where Gardendale First Baptist comes in and we know that as soon as we get their sticks and put them in, we’ll be doing the reporting kind of in batches.” Probate Judge Jim Naftel, Jefferson County’s Chief Election Official said.

Naftel is hoping every hour or hour and a half at the latest, they’ll be able to give the public a snapshot of where the results are at that moment.

“We’re working really hard to try to make sure that this process doesn’t take us into like Wednesday morning and stuff where people don’t know the results, because that makes everybody nervous. That makes people think that something is afoot if they don’t know what the results are,” Naftel said.

When results from all 175 county precincts are downloaded onto the hardened computers. The combined results will then be put on a separate computer and uploaded to the secretary of state for reporting.

You will still be able to show up once the polls close and see the results on the door of the precinct.

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