Alabama’s top court has blocked a lower court’s order directing state election officials to preserve all digital ballot images in Alabama’s hotly contested special Senate election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.
Controversies surrounding Moore may give Democrat Jones an edge in the Republican-dominated state. Multiple women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct with teen girls when he was in his 30s. Moore is now 70 and denies the charges.
On Monday, a Montgomery County Circuit judge had ordered that all ballot scanners in the state save all digital copies of Tuesday’s ballots.
“All counties employing digital ballot scanners in the Dec. 12, 2017, election are hereby ordered to set their voting machines to save all processed images in order to preserve all digital ballot images,” reads a court document obtained by AL.com.
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The circuit court approved the injunction Monday afternoon, which stems from a lawsuit filed last week by a group of voters that argued the state is required to keep the images under state and federal law, AL.com reported.
“After hearing arguments and reviewing the filings, it appears that Plaintiffs and similarly situated voters would suffer irreparable and immediate harm if digital ballot images are not preserved,” Circuit Judge Ashley Shaul wrote in Monday’s injunction ruling.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs told the Alabama newspaper the court order was a win for voters.
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Duncan went on to explain that it’s the digital copy of the ballot that is counted in the election results.
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Late Monday, attorneys for Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and the state administrator of elections, Ed Packard, filed an emergency stay on the lower court injunction.
“The Defendants to this action do not have authority to maintain such records or to require local officials to do so. Plaintiffs therefore lack standing, the Circuit Court lacks jurisdiction, and the order is a nullity,” reads the stay. “Although a nullity, it will, if not stayed, cause confusion among elections officials and be disruptive to an election scheduled for tomorrow.”
The Alabama Supreme Court granted the emergency stay shortly after it was filed.
— With a file from the Associated Press