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Politics

Alabama’s top court blocks order to preserve digital voting records in Tuesday’s election

ABOVE: Voters in the traditionally conservative Alabama state will choose between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. U.S. President Trump endorsed Moore despite sexual misconduct allegations that emerged during the campaign

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.

READ MORE: Alabama voters head to the polls after turbulent Senate race

“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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Many women in Alabama still supporting Roy Moore for Senate
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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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White House: People of Alabama should decide on Roy Moore
White House: People of Alabama should decide on Roy Moore
“[The images] need to be preserved at least six months under the statute,” Duncan told AL.com Monday. “They are being told at this point to preserve all digital ballot records.”

READ MORE: Alabama Republicans sticking with Roy Moore despite sexual misconduct allegations

Duncan went on to explain that it’s the digital copy of the ballot that is counted in the election results.

“People think that when they mark the ballots and they go into the machine that that’s what counted,” she said. “But it’s not, the paper ballot is not what’s counted. That ballot is scanned and they destroy [the ballots] after the election,” the attorney told AL.com. “If there’s ever an election challenge you need to have what was actually counted.”

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Roy Moore accuser Leigh Corfman details alleged assault at 14 years of age
Roy Moore accuser Leigh Corfman details alleged assault at 14 years of age

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.

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“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