Alabama is allowed to destroy digital voting records created at the polls during today’s U.S. Senate election after all. At 1:36 p.m. Monday, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge issued an order directing Alabama election officials to preserve all digital ballot images created at polling places across the state today. But at 4:32 p.m. Monday, attorneys for Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Ed Packard, the state administrator of elections, filed an “emergency motion to stay” that order, which the state Supreme Court granted minutes after Merrill and Packard’s motion was filed. By granting the stay, the court effectively told the state that it does not in fact have to preserve the digital ballot images – essentially digitized versions of the paper ballots voters fill out at the voting booth – created today.
The court will hold a hearing on Dec. 21 about whether to dismiss the case outright. By that point the state will have had ample time to destroy the digital ballot images legally under the stay.
Merrill and Packard’s attorneys argued in the emergency motion Monday that the two officials “do not have authority to maintain such records or to require local officials to do so. Plaintiffs therefore lack standing, the Circuit Court lacks jurisdiction, and the order is a nullity. Although a nullity, it will, if not stayed, cause confusion among elections officials and be disruptive to an election scheduled for tomorrow.”