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How safe is your vote in Alabama?

It is the cornerstone of our democracy, our most sacred right as citizens of this country - your right to vote.

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 9:43 PM

It is the cornerstone of our democracy, our most sacred right as citizens of this country - your right to vote.

With the primary less than two weeks away I talked to some candidates, voters, and the man in charge of elections in Alabama to learn what they’re worried about most as we head to the polls this year.

We met several people who are concerned with voter turnout.

“Oh. I’m telling every young person I can - white, brown you name it - black - you know - I’m telling them - vote!” said Roy McCray.

Gloria Richardson, a former poll worker, also lamented the lack of participation in the election.

“Everybody should vote. And I get really angry when I hear someone who complains, but they don’t vote.”

But assuming everyone who can vote does vote, how confident can we be that the vote we cast is the one recorded for our candidate? Could the vote count be manipulated?

“There’s always a chance. I mean, in today’s technological world, that’s possible,” said Chris Lewis, a candidate for Alabama's 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

His background is in intelligence surveillance with the military. While it is easy, according to Lewis, it's not likely.

“There’s a lot that can be done. It’s not a hard thing to do. But I don’t think North Alabama is a place that we’re really concerned with it.”

I asked Richardson, the former poll worker, if there’s any way for a vote to be changed.

“No. Because it’s not on the Internet. It just goes to the machine.”

Secretary of State John Merrill is in charge of Alabama's elections. He says your vote is recorded on a stand-alone drive in the voting machine that is only shared with the county supervisor. It is then certified in Montgomery. He says it's very well protected. And as an added measure of security, Alabama will introduce an election audit this year.

“To show that when your vote was cast, it was cast for the candidate of your choice," Merrill said.

So with the integrity of the vote count secured, there is another threat to the election that has officials and candidates alike worried. An even greater threat, they say, than some hackers trying to change votes after they’re cast - are those trying to influence your vote before you get to the polls.

“They’re all trying to mess with our election and we shouldn’t let them do that," said Rep. Bradley Byrne, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones.

Byrne said misinformation, especially through social media, is the single greatest threat, and something we should all be aware of.

“If you don’t know the origin, or where something’s coming from, you need to question it,” he said.

It’s a theme every voter we talked to mentioned. Your vote is under constant assault from bad actors on social media.

Richardson is concerned about it.

“I am concerned with the internet putting out false information. Very concerned.”

So is Stephan Newman, who works at a boutique in downtown Huntsville. He is especially worried about older voters, whom he feels are more easily taken in by false information.

“When they go to look up something on Google or Facebook, they expect it to be true, because it’s on the internet, if that makes sense.”

Merrill said the flood of information - or misinformation - on websites and apps, the malicious memes and divisive discourse, is dong us all a disservice.

He said, "They want to share it as often as they can because it reflects their opinion or point of view. And sometimes it leads to confusion.”

Alabama is seeing a surge in voter registration, and record turnout at the polls. Part of that responsibility is making an informed decision.

Byrne puts it this way: “If we make the commitment to vote, if we make the effort to understand the information we got is accurate, then we’ll make the right choice.”

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 48588

Reported Deaths: 1042
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 55986

Reported Deaths: 685
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby12549208
Davidson12234132
Rutherford323437
Hamilton300736
Sumner172755
Williamson151515
Trousdale15035
Knox13929
Out of TN12307
Wilson106017
Putnam9267
Robertson87511
Bradley8744
Sevier8573
Unassigned8302
Lake6960
Tipton6625
Bledsoe6241
Montgomery6207
Bedford5898
Macon5114
Maury4063
Hamblen3974
Hardeman3744
Fayette3443
Madison3392
Loudon3021
Rhea2930
Blount2723
Dyer2703
McMinn25518
Cheatham2432
Dickson2310
Washington1970
Cumberland1934
Lawrence1926
Anderson1662
Lauderdale1643
Sullivan1592
Jefferson1481
Gibson1471
Monroe1416
Smith1362
Coffee1320
Greene1222
Hardin1197
Obion1172
Cocke1160
Haywood1082
Franklin1013
Marshall1011
Warren1000
Hickman950
Wayne900
Marion874
McNairy841
Lincoln780
Giles771
White773
Carter751
Roane710
DeKalb700
Overton671
Weakley671
Hawkins662
Grundy652
Campbell621
Claiborne590
Henderson560
Unicoi560
Carroll491
Chester480
Grainger480
Polk480
Henry470
Crockett443
Johnson440
Sequatchie420
Cannon410
Humphreys352
Perry350
Meigs340
Jackson330
Morgan291
Fentress250
Stewart250
Decatur240
Scott210
Union190
Clay180
Moore170
Houston160
Benton131
Hancock90
Lewis70
Van Buren70
Pickett60

 

 

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