by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
DECEMBER 11, 2017
While the whole world watches Tuesday’s Alabama US Senate election, race-based battles behind the scenes could decide the outcome.
They focus on likely stripping of voter rolls to prevent African-Americans from casting their rightful ballots , and flipping the electronic outcome should that prove insufficient.
But election protection activists have just won a major court victory that could make electronically flipping the election more difficult. An in-depth feature will follow on that tonight.
The national Democratic Party has poured significant resources into this race. We hope it will provide careful scrutiny on whether legitimate citizens are allowed to vote, and on how the votes are actually counted.
In particular, we urge that there be no definitive concession shy of a full recount, and of public hearings on who was allowed the right to vote and who was denied it, including access to regular rather than provisional ballots.
Three key voter access issues include:
- The state recently passed legislation making it easier for ex-felons to vote. But critics charge there has been no significant official attempt to actually notify ex-felons of the change. A court has ruled that the state is not obligated to make such an effort ;
- The state has imposed strict voter ID laws that could make it harder for citizens of color to vote. The state has also shut motor vehicle offices in areas where black voters are likely to apply for credentials that would allow them to cast ballots ;
- With an intense chilling effect, Alabama’s Republican secretary of state has threatened felony prosecution against several hundred citizens who may have switched party affiliation in the recent primaries
.There is also significant concern over the nature of the ballot and the potential for a recount.
Election protection activist John Brakey has pointed out that most of the machines currently used in Alabama can produce an electronic ballot image that is usable for recounts. But in a letter to Brakey, Alabama’s secretary of state said he may not require the use of this feature.
Brakey and others were in court today demanding that the state’s ballots be reliably counted, and that the electronic ballot images be created and preserved for a possible recount.
Brakey reported to the Free Press at 1:18pm on Monday, Dec. 11 that he won a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) in Alabama court to force the Secretary of State to preserve the ballot images.
This is essential since the ballot design in Alabama has been called into question by election integrity activists like Mimi Kennedy. The ballot design lends itself to “overvote” problems. The ballot allows voters to vote a straight party ticket, even though in the vast majority of counties there is only the Roy Moore-Doug Jones special U.S. special election on the ballot.
But the ballot also then allows you to vote for the candidate. If you select the straight party vote and the candidate vote – the machines are likely to read this as an “overvote” and cancel out the vote. The machines can be programmed to not accept an overvote.
The only way to resolve this is to compare the ballots with the ballot images.
This campaign, of course, has been infamously unsettled by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at the Republican candidate Roy Moore. Moore has been strongly endorsed by “conservative Christians” and by Donald Trump, who is currently accused of sexual assault by some 19 women.
The stakes could hardly be higher. The 52-48 Republican margin in the US Senate would shrink to a single vote should Democrat Doug Jones win the seat. He would also become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama since Richard Shelby, who switched parties and has recently said Alabama can “do better” than his fellow Republican Roy Moore.
About a quarter of Alabama’s five million citizens are black. Should most of them vote, and have their votes actually counted, they could decide the election.
But Alabama’s long Jim Crow tradition weighs heavily against that happening.
There will likely be an “official” outcome on Tuesday. But who gets that crucial seat may actually turn on a willingness to fight for a fair turnout and to guarantee an accurate vote count.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman co-wrote THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES.Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA!OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.His LIFE & DEATH SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will be out in 2018.
Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia