Alabama Senate approves bills requiring paper ballots, banning internet-capable voting machines

Alabama Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, listens to a budget presentation from the Alabama Community College System on March 7 during the first day of the Alabama Legislatures 2023 regular session. / Alabama Reflector photo by Brian Lyman

The Alabama Senate approved two bills that would codify current voting practices.

Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10, both sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, passed through the chamber.

SB 9 requires the use of paper ballots in voting machines. SB 10 prevents the use of voting machines that connect to the internet. Each passed on 29-0 votes.

Both measures passed Tuesday afternoon.

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Chambliss said after the Senate adjourned Tuesday that the bills would not affect polling places. The legislation, he said, aimed to prevent hacking and allow ballot counting when power outages take place.

"What we're trying to do is be proactive with issues that we've seen happen in other places and just make sure that's not a problem here," Chambliss said.

Chambliss said it was important to codify these practices as part of law to make sure "every one person gets to vote once and not twice."

"No matter which party in the state, we all want safe and honest elections, secure elections," he said.

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Kathy Jones, president of the Alabama League of Women Voters, previously told the Alabama Reflector that she is concerned about potential impact on voters with disabilities.

"It is a preemptive law," Jones said. "Right now, all of our ballots are done with paper. That is just how things are done here in Alabama. This law seems to prohibit having any alternative to a paper ballot for those who are disabled or incapacitated."

The bill moves to the House of Representatives.