Alabama Senate Majority Whip Clyde Chambliss announced on Monday that he has pre-filed two pieces of legislation related to election integrity: One to prohibit the use of ballot tabulating systems capable of connecting to the internet and another to require the use of only paper ballots when casting votes.
Senate bills 9 and 10 both place “existing administrative rules into statute” and would require any changes, if they appear, to be approved by the state legislature, according to Chambliss.
“Every voter in every election in this state – municipal, county or state – should leave the polling place with the assurance that every vote is counted fairly and securely,” Chambliss said in a statement on Monday. “These bills do just that.”
Over the previous two regular sessions, Chambliss has filed similar bills attempting a straight prohibition of electronic vote counting machines capable of connecting to the internet, with each attempt failing to reach final enactment.
The state does not use voting machines connected to any wireless or cellular network, with each machine used without “wireless chips, or any other piece of hardware to communicate or be communicated with,” according to the Alabama Secretary of State. There have yet to be any public plans unveiled to replace vote tabulators with ones capable of internet connection, nor is this likely.
“It is essential that voters have faith in the integrity of our elections process,” Chambliss said. “This bill would ensure that no voter ever has to be concerned about the internet connectivity of voting machines. By banning any form of connective technology in our vote counting machines, we are ensuring that our elections remain free of any technological interference.”
Creating the requirement for the state only to use paper ballots is another issue Chambliss has tried to pass in the previous two regular sessions. This most recent attempt would require the electronic tabulators only count “a paper ballot that is marked and inspected by the voter prior to being cast and counted,” according to SB9.
“All Alabama elections currently use paper ballots,” Chambliss said. “This bill would codify the current process to ensure that Alabama’s voters will always use paper ballots and that they will always mark those ballots in order to cast a vote in any election held in this state. This bill protects the process that we have in place now.”
Both bills will be considered during the upcoming regular legislative session, expected to begin March. 8.