On Monday, Republican Secretary of State candidate Ed Packard expressed his concerns about the Alabama Legislature’s failure to pass SB46, SB249 and HB204, election integrity bills introduced in the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

“The Alabama Legislature’s failure to enact these three bills concerns me,” Packard said. “I understand that the State Senate and State House had many issues of serious concern before them during the legislative session that ended this past week. These bills were no different. Given the concerns of Alabama voters about election integrity and confidence in our election system, especially since the 2020 presidential election, it is a grave disservice to the good people of Alabama to not pass this legislation into state law.”

Senate Bill 46 (SB46) was sponsored by state Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville). It would have prohibited Alabama’s electronic voting machines from being equipped with technology that would permit remote connections to those ballot tabulators. The technologies banned by the bill include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications, and any similar technologies.

“Not just since 2020, but even before that, Alabamians have been concerned with the potential for hacking our voting machines,” Packard said. “Some will tell you our voting machines cannot be hacked. However, any computerized device can be hacked if a person knows how to program software or firmware and if that person has access to the voting machines, especially the flash drives that contain the instructions for how the voting machines count ballots.”

Packard recently retired from a 24-year career overseeing elections for the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.

“While our counties do a great job of physically securing our voting machines, state law does not prohibit those voting machines from being accessed through the Internet or other attack vectors, such as Bluetooth technology,” said Packard. “As a former member of the Alabama Electronic Voting Committee, I and my colleagues on that committee voted to not approve for use in Alabama any voting machines that contain technology for accessing those devices remotely. Unfortunately, state law does not prohibit those technologies from being installed in our voting machines. And now, the leadership in the Alabama House of Representatives has signaled they are not concerned about that fact and that they are not aligned with so many Alabamians who are concerned about the security of our voting machines.”

SB46 passed in the Alabama Senate and came out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. It could have been passed into law by the House as early as day 12 of the legislative session – the session went on until midnight on Day 29 before legislators voted to leave, having not passed the bill.

Senate Bill 249 (SB249) was sponsored by State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville). It identified new election crimes and clarified language in the Code of Alabama regarding current election crimes.

“Passage of this bill by the Alabama Legislature would have continued the important work of rooting out election fraud and promoting and strengthening the confidence of Alabamians in our elections,” said Packard. “SB249 could have been better. I encouraged Sen. Givhan and other members of the state Senate and House to amend this legislation. The legislation should have punished anyone who commits a felony election crime with the loss of their voting rights.”

SB46 never got out of the Alabama Senate.

House Bill 204 (HB204) was sponsored by State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro). It would have authorized an audit of the 2020 general election in Alabama.

“There is obviously a public interest in ensuring that Alabamians have confidence in our elections,” said Packard. “Auditing elections is one process that can help maintain or strengthen voters’ confidence. As I have reported previously, Alabama is one of only a handful of states that does not require or permit audits of our elections. As I have stated during my campaign for Secretary of State, I believe that the Alabama Legislature should require audits for all elections.”

HB204 was never even considered by the Alabama House of Representatives.

“Alabamians may have varying opinions as to whether the 2020 general election should be audited or about how that audit should be conducted. However, the appropriate legislative committees should have brought HB204 up for consideration and let those opinions be examined in the bright light of day,” Packard stated.

The Legislature passed House Bill 194 (HB194) which was sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy). The legislation is now awaiting Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature. HB194 prohibits state and local election officials from soliciting, accepting, using or disposing of certain donations from people or nongovernmental entities for utilization in election administration in Alabama.

Wes Allen, Christian Horn, Ed Packard, and Jim Zeigler are all running in the May 24 Republican primary for Secretary of State.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.