On Thursday, a conservative action group that is concerned with election integrity and supports informing voters, Focus on America announced in a press release that they have supplemented the record in their case challenging the use of voting machines in Alabama elections.
Focus on America said in the release that they have forwarded new evidence to the Alabama Supreme Court and the Montgomery Trial Court. The new evidence is from a statement that defendant Secretary of State John Merrill made in a meeting of the Tennessee Valley Republicans that the plaintiffs claim contradicts prior testimony of defendants and defense witnesses in this case. The plaintiffs claim that this new evidence shows that Alabama’s election voting system is wide open to the internet in over sixty locations.
Secretary Merrill disputed Focus on America’s claim in a phone interview with Alabama Today.
Rebecca Rogers, with Focus on America, is a plaintiff in Hanes v. Merrill that presently plaintiffs have appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. Rogers stated she asked Sec. Merrill specifically about the so-called “hardened” laptops provided to each probate judge. Rogers referred Merrill to an AL.com article that quotes both Merrill and co-Defendant Bill English, Lee County Probate Judge and Chair of the Alabama Electronic Voting Committee.
“The hacker, if he gets into our second computer and changes it, we’ve still got the original data from the precincts on computer A,” English said. “The security is that nobody can get to computer A from the Internet.”
Rogers claimed that in her question, she referenced the Secretary of State Office’s own purchase order for these so-called “hardened” laptops that proves, among other things, that the laptops are not hardened but, to the contrary, were ordered with WiFi and Bluetooth.
“Everything in this case has already been adjudicated,” Merrill told Alabama Today. “That case is over.”
Merrill said that the information that is in those laptops is for “election night reporting only so that the media can have numbers to report. Those are unofficial results.”
“While Merrill and the probate judges may understand that this computer is used for only one purpose, hackers don’t really care and connecting to the internet at all leaves widespread vulnerabilities in our election security and voter rights,” stated Rogers. “John Merrill misrepresented the truth before the Alabama Supreme Court with our electronic voting machine lawsuit.”
Merrill denied misrepresenting anything to the court.
“Those people have gotten so much information they can’t understand it,” Merrill said. “They have no credibility.”
“In May of this year, John Merrill said that the “hardened” stand-alone computers used in the election ‘cannot be connected to the internet.’” Melissa Isaak, the plaintiff’s attorney, said. “This was shown in court to be false as Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity was specifically requested in Merrill’s own purchase orders.”
Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Phillip Jauregui, stated, “This admission is outrageous. For months, the defendants have testified that the election laptops are not open to the internet. But now, when exposed by their own purchase order, they are forced to admit that the opposite is true. The legal problem is that they only did so after the record and appeal had been sent to the Alabama Supreme Court. We hope and pray the Alabama Supreme Court will accept this new evidence and rule for the plaintiffs in our main case. Our janky, uncertified, and insecure systems must be fixed.”
Alabama Today asked Merrill what the status of the case is.
“Hugh is dead,” Merrill responded, referring to the recent passing of the Secretary of State’s general counsel. “Normally, I would just ask him.”
The general counsel for the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office Hugh Evans III passed away on November 17. Evans was undefeated in numerous different court challenges of election law while working with Merrill.
Merrill reiterated his view that the Alabama election results cannot be hacked and that this case has no merit.
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