Packard: Alabama Would Benefit From Post-election Audits

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PACKARD

OPINION —

GREG MARKLEY

Packard: Alabama Would Benefit From Post-Election Audits

Before the Gulf War of 1990-91, soldiers in the Chemical Corps would jokingly say Nuclear, Biological and Chemical really stood for “No Body Cares.” There was not much interest about it as opposed to other branches. But with Saddam Hussein in Iraq having already gassed some of his own people, NBC quickly became “No Bigger Challenge.”

 I saw the change in the term NBC as newspaper editor at Fort McClellan, Alabama, (1989-1992). I often worked in media relations at the U.S. Army Chemical School. Later, in 2000, I knew “hanging chads and butterfly ballots” would decide the next president. After 2020, secretary of state offices gained bigger profiles. As with the NBC term, people cared more knowing the bigger challenges ahead.

 “The Alabama Legislature should provide for post-election procedural audits for all elections held in the state of Alabama,” said Ed Packard, a Republican candidate for secretary of state. “That way, Alabamians can be assured that election officials are following elections laws and regulations when conducting elections.”

Packard is the first person in the United States to earn a Masters with a specialty in election administration. A native of San Antonio, Texas, he graduated from Auburn High School. He served a total of 27 years in election administration. In 1997, he became administrator of elections at the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. Ten years later, Packard was appointed supervisor of voter registration. In 2013, Packard was named state election director for that same constitutional office. He has worked on administering more than 400 elections over a period of 30 years.

 Over the past 25 to 30 years, a large sector of the public prefers candidates who are “outsiders” that might learn their new job fast and in-depth. That is sometimes true and it would be remiss to always vote for the most experienced person. Why? It is because new approaches and different perspectives can add to the dynamics. It’s best to study candidates and decide whether a seasoned elections worker or a fast learner should get your vote. Both have merit.

 One subject Packard is passionate is securing personally identifying information. He explained that groups of Alabamians have personal information in the statewide voter database that is protected from sale by the secretary of state. In the same vein, “all registered voters in Alabama should have the right to protect their personal information by being allowed to opt out of the sale of that information by the Secretary of State.”

 Another item is voting assistance for disabled persons. Packard said the Legislature “should provide Alabamians with disabilities the ability to receive their absentee ballot electronically as well as submit their absentee ballot electronically. We already provide this option to other disadvantaged groups, such as military personnel stationed overseas.”

 Asked who he looks up to, Packard said topmost is his father, James R. Packard, a member of the Air Force for 20 years and later a 26-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service. Then comes his mother, Nelda Norton Packard, “a great mom” who gave him values that have endured.

 “I also consider as a role model the late Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett,” Packard said. “He was the consummate statesman in his many years of service to Alabama.” Bennett served 12 years. Agnes Baggett also served 12 years. We are currently determining whether Bennett or Baggett is the longest-serving Alabama secretary of state. I will tell you next week.

 After the 2020 election, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill started a blue-ribbon task force to address issues of fraud not delineated in the state Constitution. The state had very little recorded fraud itself, but it was noted that clarifications were needed for future reference. Two or three women attending asked Merrill if the state allowed voting audits.

 Merrill politely told them “No.” They were upset about former President Trump losing the election because of alleged widespread fraud. None has been legally proven in court. Yet such conversations remind me of the morphing of the Army’s NBC branch into a “No Bigger Challenge” situation. With the Republic’s continuation in the dock, secretaries of state nationwide are busier and more visible than ever. On April 21, candidate Wes Allen will be profiled.

Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 12 years. gm.markley@charter.net

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