Jefferson County could face delay in getting primary election results | #computerhacking | #hacking


If there’s a close race in tonight’s Alabama primaries, the state’s largest county could be late reporting the results that decide the race because of new procedures designed to protect election integrity.

“There’s a chance results could be slow,” Jefferson County Board of Registrars Barry Stephenson said Tuesday afternoon.

“Logistically, there will be delay.”

Stephenson is referring Secretary of State John Merrill’s plan to protect vote results from hacking. It involves secure laptops provided to Alabama counties by the state. Jefferson County has two of them, Stephenson said, which is one more than it originally received.

The plan is for voters to feed their completed ballots into precinct scanners that record the votes on a flash drive, as usual. Normally when polls close, those flash drives go to county courthouses via secure transport by law enforcement and are fed into computers to tally the results.

This time, the computers getting the flash drive data will be the stand-alone laptops provided just for that purpose. They will take the data, tally it, store it and download it to a second flash drive. Those flash drives will be downloaded to another computer and transmitted to the state. The original voting data on the first computer is secure from Internet hacking.

Jefferson’s issue will come from its size, Stephenson said. The county is geographically large with 175 voting precincts, more than 400 voting machines and five normal drop-off points for precinct votes.

If the secure laptops from the state are at two of those drop points, Stephenson said, that leaves three with voting data that must be driven by deputies – to protect the chain of security – to one of the two sites with a secure laptop, Stephenson said.

That will just take some time, he said. And the process will not provide for real-time election reporting as usual, although the county plans to provide periodic printed reports on its website.

(AL.com reporter Mike Cason contributed to this report)



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