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: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

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