Ed Packard expresses concern about Alabama legislature failing to pass election integrity bills | #elections | #alabama

Ed Packard, Republican Party candidate for Secretary of State, expressed concern about the Alabama Legislature’s failure to pass SB46, SB249, and HB204, election integrity bills introduced in its 2022 Regular Session. Packard released the following commentary in a press release.

“The Alabama Legislature’s failure to enact these three bills concerns me,” Mr. Packard exclaimed. “I understand
that the State Senate and State House had many issues of serious concern before them during the legislative session
that ended this past week. These bills were no different. Given the concerns of Alabama voters about election
integrity and confidence in our election system, especially since the 2020 presidential election, it is a grave
disservice to the good people of Alabama to not pass this legislation into state law.”

SB46, sponsored by state Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Autauga, Chilton, Coosa, Elmore, and Tallapoosa Counties),
would have prohibited Alabama’s electronic voting machines from being equipped with technology that would
permit remote connections to those ballot tabulators. The technologies banned by the bill include Wi-Fi, Ethernet,
Bluetooth, Near Field Communications, and any similar technologies.

“Not just since 2020, but even before that, Alabamians have been concerned with the potential for hacking our
voting machines,” Mr. Packard explained. “Some will tell you our voting machines cannot be hacked. However,
any computerized device can be hacked if a person knows how to program software or firmware and if that person
has access to the voting machines, especially the flash drives that contain the instructions for how the voting
machines count ballots.”

“While our counties do a great job of physically securing our voting machines, state law does not prohibit those
voting machines from being accessed through the Internet or other attack vectors, such as Bluetooth technology,”
Mr. Packard, a 24+ year veteran of the Secretary of State’s office continued. “As a former member of the Alabama
Electronic Voting Committee, I and my colleagues on that committee voted to not approve for use in Alabama any
voting machines that contain technology for accessing those devices remotely. Unfortunately, state law does not
prohibit those technologies from being installed in our voting machines. And now, the leadership in the Alabama
House of Representative has signaled they are not concerned about that fact and that they are not aligned with so
many Alabamians who are concerned about the security of our voting machines.”

Mr. Packard noted that Senator Chambliss’ bill had cleared the Alabama Senate and came out of committee in the
Alabama House of Representatives and was due for a floor vote as early as day 12 of the legislative session. When
the Legislature adjourned last week, the leadership of the Alabama House had not brought SB46 up for final
consideration by that body’s members.

SB249, sponsored by state Senator Sam Givhan (R-Madison County), identified new election crimes and clarified
language in the Code of Alabama regarding current election crimes. “Passage of this bill by the Alabama
Legislature would have continued the important work of rooting out election fraud and promoting and strengthening
the confidence of Alabamians in our elections,” Mr. Packard explained.

“SB249 could have been better,” Mr. Packard stated. “I encouraged Senator Givhan and other members of the state
Senate and House to amend this legislation. The legislation should have punished anyone who commits a felony
election crime with the loss of their voting rights. Unfortunately, this legislation was postponed indefinitely in the
Alabama Senate, so it was not passed in its original form or with this stern punishment for actions that undermine
our representative democratic form of government.”

HB204, sponsored by state Representative Tommy Hanes (R-Jackson and DeKalb Counties), would have addressed
the concerns of many Alabamians who wanted the 2020 general election in Alabama to be audited, given concerns
that have arisen nationally regarding voter fraud and malfeasance.

“There is obviously a public interest in ensuring that Alabamians’ have confidence in our elections,” Mr. Packard
claimed. “Auditing elections is one process that can help maintain or strengthen voters’ confidence.”

“As I have reported previously,” Mr. Packard continued, “Alabama is one of only a handful of states that does not
require or permit audits of our elections. As I have stated during my campaign for Secretary of State, I believe that
the Alabama Legislature should require audits for all elections.”

“Unfortunately, HB204 languished in the Legislature since its introduction on February 2, 2022,” Packard
observed. “Alabamians may have varying opinions as to whether the 2020 general election should be audited or
about how that audit should be conducted. However, the appropriate legislative committees should have brought
HB204 up for consideration and let those opinions be examined in the bright light of day.”

The Alabama Legislature did give final passage to HB194 sponsored by Representative Wes Allen (R-Dale and Pike
Counties). The legislation is now awaiting Governor Kay Ivey’s signature. This bill prohibits state and local
election officials from soliciting, accepting, using, or disposing of certain donations from people or nongovernmental
entities for utilization in election administration in Alabama.

“I agree that interest groups, including those from out of state, should not be permitted to inject money or material
goods into Alabama elections with the intent to corruptly influence the conduct of elections in Alabama,” Mr.
Packard stated. “However, I’m unsure why this legislation was given preferential treatment over the very substantive
concerns addressed by SB46, SB249, and HB204.”

“I am further concerned that Representative Allen’s bill seems to be based on the presumption that Alabama’s
election officials at the state, county, and municipal levels are inclined to be corrupted by the donations prohibited
HB194,” Mr. Packard suggested. “I have worked with Alabama’s elections officials at all levels of government for
29 years, with over 24 of those years while as a staff member of the Secretary of State’s office. Generally speaking,
I have found Alabama’s probate judges, absentee election managers, sheriffs, and registrars, to be above reproach.”
“If anyone has information or evidence that a state, county, or city election official has violated any state law that
governs the conduct of our elections, they should bring that information or evidence to light. They should report
that malfeasance to the Attorney General or their local District Attorney,” Mr. Packard challenged.

“If there’s bad behavior out there that needs addressed, let’s not only tighten up our laws on that behavior but also
bring the perpetrators to justice under the laws that currently apply to that behavior,” Mr. Packard demanded.
“Unfortunately, punishment for many election crimes – like buying or selling a vote – is grossly inadequate,” Mr.
Packard outlined.

“Even Representative Allen’s bill makes the corruption of our election processes through cash donations or
donations of material goods only a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months
and/or a fine of up to $3,000,” Mr. Packard noted. “So many election crimes in Alabama are quite a bargain. If you
have $500 to burn, you can litter on our state’s highways. Or you can buy a vote, or even sell your vote. Those
transgressions are Class C misdemeanors, punishable by up to three months in jail and/or a $500 fine.”
“It’s well-past time to adjust the penalties for undermining our elections, the very foundation of our system of
governance,” Mr. Packard said.

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