CONTRIBUTED BY ED PACKARD
Sunday, Ed Packard, Republican Party candidate for Secretary of State, announced his support for Senate Bill 46, legislation introduced by Senator Clyde Chambliss, State Senator representing Autauga, Chilton, Coosa, Elmore and Tallapoosa Counties. The bill would prohibit the connection of electronic voting machines to the Internet or cell phone networks.
Packard explained that under current law, there is no prohibition on electronic voting machines having the capability to connect to the Internet or cell phone networks.
“The Alabama Electronic Voting Committee voted several years ago to adopt a policy of not approving for use in Alabama any electronic voting machine that incorporated devices used to connect to the Internet — whether through the use of Wi-Fi, ethernet cards or cell phone networks. However, despite the vote by that committee, state law does not prohibit the use of these technologies in our voting machines.”
Packard was the Secretary of State’s representative on the Electronic Voting Committee when this decision was made to prohibit the use of devices that contained this technology.
Packard continued, saying, “We need a strong statement by the Alabama Legislature prohibiting the use of these technologies in our electronic voting devices. And that statement can, and should be, made by the Alabama Legislature through the adoption of a state law that prohibits the use of these devices in the voting machines. Voting machines collect and tabulate the votes that reflect the public’s will in our elections. Therefore, our voting machines should be as secure as possible. Incorporating into state election law a prohibition on remote connectivity to and from our voting devices will help further secure our voting machines.”
“Such action is a vital part of our efforts to ensure that Alabamians can have confidence in our election system,” Packard confirmed.
“Manipulation of vote totals can occur only if voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. However, for hacking to take place, someone, or some group of people, must have the knowledge of how to program our voting devices and they must have access to our voting machines, either through remote connectivity through the Internet by wired or wireless technologies or by having physical access to the voting machines while they are in storage.”
“County election officials, including Probate Judges and Sheriffs, do a great job of physically securing our voting machines and preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing them. And while the prior action of the members of the Alabama Electronic Voting Committee is appreciated, a legal ban on technologies utilized for remote connectivity that is part of the Code of Alabama is much more preferable.”
AL.com reported on Feb. 6, 2022, that a fellow candidate for Secretary of State claimed Alabama’s voting machines cannot be connected to the Internet. However, the electronic voting devices currently in use in Alabama can be connected to the Internet if the manufacturer of the voting devices installs Wi-Fi or ethernet equipment in the voting machines, or if the manufacturer installs the device necessary to connect to cell phone networks.
“All that is stopping the manufacturer from installing any of these voting devices is a policy decision by the Alabama Electronic Voting Committee,” Packard explained. “While I do not have any reason to believe that the Committee would rescind that policy, it could, at any time. Incorporating the ban on these connectivity devices into state law will make the ban stronger and would require action of the Alabama Legislature to rescind. Such a move would make any rescission of the policy much harder to achieve.”
Senate Bill 46 has already been approved by the Alabama Senate. It is now awaiting action in the Alabama House of Representatives.
“Aside from providing final passage of this important bill, I would recommend that the House amend the bill to include other types of technology that are used for remote connectivity, such as Bluetooth and near field communications,” Packard said in conclusion. “We need to close the door on all of these technologies and similar technologies, whether known to us now or in the future, so that Alabamians can have confidence in our electronic voting machines.”