10 months ago

John Merrill: Anyone who believes viral election hacking video ‘is not thinking very clearly’

After a video recently went viral on social media depicting American election equipment being easily hacked at this summer’s Def Con hacking conference, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News that it is “unconscionable” that anyone would give the video “any credence.”

Even though this particular type of voting equipment is not used in Alabama, Merrill was quick to point out the clear and overarching fallacy in the hacker’s panic-causing assertion.

“I don’t know that there’s a singular problem with the equipment that’s been challenged, because I can’t think of a single jurisdiction in the United States of America where a polling official would allow anybody that is not authorized to come into contact with the voting equipment and have unfettered access to that equipment at the level that would give them unbridled permission to compromise the integrity of the equipment,” Merrill said in a Yellowhammer News exclusive interview.

He continued, “Without question, I can’t think of any jurisdiction where that’d be allowed to occur. It certainly would not be allowed in the state of Alabama.”

Merrill slammed the video, which currently has approximately 2 million views, and people who are using it to stir up mass hysteria about election security.
“Anybody that watches a video – like the one that’s been circulating on social media – and believes that someone could walk in off the street into a room full of election equipment with unfettered access, manipulate it in a way without being questioned [by election officials], and then reprogram it in the way they want, is not thinking very clearly. Period,” Merrill emphasized.

He added, “It’s unconscionable that somebody would give that any credence. That’s no different than someone saying they could break in the Capitol – or the White House or the Pentagon – if they were given unfettered access.”

Merrill also assured Alabamians that the state’s election equipment is secure and that election officials continuously monitor the equipment on Election Day.

“All of our equipment is kept under lock and key,” Merrill outlined. “Before the election occurs, the equipment is set-up in each location where it’s required to be for the election to take place. There are security precautions that are entered in to. Our election officials guarantee the safety and security of the equipment so that when people’s votes are cast, we know that they’re cast for the candidate of their choice and are counted for the candidate of their choice.”

Alabama’s Secretary of State also explained that a lot goes into election integrity behind the scenes, with many different layers of security being in place.

“One of the things that we’ve been diligent about – and we remain diligent about – is that we work extraordinarily well with our public and private partners to ensure the safety and credibility and the integrity of the election process,” Merrill said. “We do that through our technology, as well as through our training to make sure that our people are prepared for any instance or circumstance introduced.”

He also wanted to correct common misconceptions about electronic voting equipment.

“The thing that I think our people have to remember – and we can’t stress this enough – is that none of our election equipment or technology is connected to the internet, so you’re not going to be able to violate the trust and confidence of the process through any kind of encryption that would result in the crippling of our system at the local site where you go to vote,” Merrill detailed.

He continued, “You’re not going to be able to infiltrate the system through the use of our electronic poll books … even though we are using wireless-based communication in some instances, we are not using communication that can be hacked in to or could have the result of being negatively impactful on our local, county, regional, state or federal elections.”

Merrill credited his office’s 24/7 accessibility and open lines with election workers on the ground as keys to Alabama’s success in securing elections.

“We make sure that they know who to call if there’s a concern introduced while they’re working,” Merrill explained. “And things have gone really well in the previous election cycles.”

Preparation is key for election security, and Merrill is confident that Alabama is prepared for the upcoming general election.

“We believe that [Alabama’s success] will continue on November 6,” Merrill stated. “Training has already begun in many counties.”

Merrill continued, giving a summary of the constant improvements that Alabama is making in voting processes.

“Some of the counties are going to have electronic poll books for the first time and we’re excited about that. We now have almost 30 counties that have possession of electronic poll books,” Merrill announced.

He concluded, “Our goal is to have 67 counties using electronic poll books by 2022. The technology that is in place is technology that will make the elections process more efficient and more effective for all of our constituents throughout the State of Alabama.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

University of North Alabama adopting new tuition plan

The University of North Alabama is switching to a tuition plan that officials say will result in increased costs for some students but not others.

Officials at the school in Florence say they are reducing the total number of student fees from seven to one, and fees will be included in the overall tuition cost.

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A statement says students taking 15 hours will see a maximum increase in expenses of 4.1%.

But some could pay less, and costs will not change for others.

School officials say a lag in state funding is a continuing problem.

North Alabama’s vice president for business, Evan Thornton, says the school has deferred maintenance and capital needs totaling more than $160 million.

The school has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,200 students.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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7 hours ago

Nathan Lindsay joining governor’s office from BCA

Another high profile staffer from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is joining Governor Kay Ivey’s senior level team.

The governor on Monday announced that Nathan Lindsay will join her office as director of appointments effective July 1.

This position is charged with spearheading the meticulous work that goes into Ivey meeting her duty to appoint qualified, representative and appropriate people to positions on the state’s various boards and commissions.

A press release from the governor’s office outlined that Lindsay assumes the role with an extensive background in state government and the private sector, which uniquely qualifies him to advise the governor in this capacity.

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Most recently, through his work in political and governmental affairs at the BCA, Lindsay interacted with members of the business community throughout the Yellowhammer State, which significantly adds to his ability to identify and select candidates for various appointed posts.

Additionally, Lindsay’s early career included time in then-Governor Bob Riley’s office where he served as aide to the governor from 2006 to 2011. Lindsay also worked in the governor’s communications office as deputy press secretary and advised Riley on education policy.

“Nathan brings to our team a wealth of knowledge that I know will serve the state well,” Ivey said in a statement. “In addition to his expertise and insight, Nathan is a man of character. The men and women of my staff must have a strong work ethic, a depth of knowledge and a heart for public service. Nathan certainly embodies all of these characteristics.”

Lindsay earned his bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University. During his time at Faulkner, he served as SGA president and later, in 2018, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“As governor, I have the important responsibility of appointing qualified individuals to serve on the more than 450 boards and commissions in our state. These men and women must not only be highly-qualified, but they should also be a true reflection of our great state,” Ivey added. “I am confident we will continue to find the best people to serve our state, just as I am certain Nathan will serve my Administration exceptionally well in this position. His experience speaks for itself, and he shares my goal of moving Alabama into a better future.”

This comes weeks after Leah Garner departed BCA to become Ivey’s communications director.

Mark Colson also left BCA to become head of the Alabama Trucking Association recently.

Update 5:55 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt released a statement commending Ivey on the hire of Lindsay.

“Nathan’s background and expertise in political affairs combined with his political acumen uniquely qualify him to serve the governor and the state in this capacity,” Britt said. “I have no doubt Nathan will do an outstanding job, and I commend Governor Kay Ivey on this excellent addition to her staff.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

Alabama listed as one of the top 20 most patriotic states in America

A WalletHub report released Monday revealed Alabama to be on of the top 20 most patriotic states in America.

Ranked 19 overall on the list, with a score of 47.43, Alabama ranked first for the “Civics Education Requirement.”

The report “compared the 50 states across 13 key indicators of patriotism” and “ranges from share of enlisted military population to share of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election to AmeriCorps volunteers per capita.”

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With one as “Most Patriotic” and 25 as “Average,” Alabama received the following rankings:

  • 5th – Average Number of Military Enlistees per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 30th – Active-Duty Military Personnel per 100,000 Civilian Adults
  • 17th – Veterans per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 1st – Civics Education Requirement
  • 12th – Share of Civilian Adult Population in Military Reserves
  • 10th – Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Primary Elections

Alabama also ranked eight overall for ‘Military Engagement.’

The report, which compared red states to blue states in terms of patriotism, found that red states were more patriotic. Red states received an average rank of 23.67, while blue states received an average rank of 28.25.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

8 hours ago

Brooks: ‘Really dumb’ for Democrats to elect candidates mainly on ‘skin pigmentation or their chromosomes’

In an interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show”on Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) lamented that many Democrats have become more interested in racial and gender identity politics than the welfare of America.

Coming off of her much maligned comments comparing American immigration facilities to “concentration camps,” host Dale Jackson asked the north Alabama congressman if he believes that Democrats in Congress will allow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to continue to serve as their “de facto face and leader.”

“Yes,” Brooks answered succinctly, promoting a follow-up request for his reasoning.

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“Well, she is where she is,” Brooks explained. “She’s got a lot of political power. She’s got a lot of support — surprisingly.”

“There are large, large numbers of American citizens who have bit off on this socialist stuff, who have bit off on this victimization stuff, who have bit off on thinking that the most important criteria in determining whether to elect someone is their skin pigmentation or their chromosomes — which is really dumb, OK,” he continued. “We oughta be electing people based on their character and based on their public policy positions.”

“But, notwithstanding that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the Democratic Party in many different respects, and she does have great influence as evidenced by the presidential candidates on the socialist Democrats’ side who are trying to cultivate her support,” Brooks added. “They want her endorsement.”

Listen, starting at the 8:25 mark:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Democrats hope it’s 2017 all over again, Republicans just want the nightmare to end

In 2017, Roy Moore won a Republican primary run-off against an extremely flawed Luther Strange. Strange wasn’t just a regular candidate — he had the cloud of his appointment, and he was dogged by former Gov. Robert Bentley’s investigation, impeachment and resignation.

Alabama Republicans, outside of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), were reluctant to criticize Roy Moore because they knew doing so would hand the Senate seat to now-Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

But this is different.

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State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) told the Montgomery Advertiser that he blamed the GOP establishment in 2017, but still thinks Moore can’t win in 2020.

He stated, “I do not believe, with the numbers I look at, that Roy Moore at the end of the day can get the nomination.”

State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) dismissed Moore when asked about the candidates, saying, “If you look at the candidates, you got Roy Moore. I don’t think we need to say more there.”

Later, he all but endorsed U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) by saying Byrne “would do the best job.”

Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential future Moore opponent, believes Moore has an uphill battle against Jones.

“I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for Judge Moore to be successful in a general election campaign against Senator Jones,” Merrill outlined.

He added, “I also think it would be difficult for Judge Moore to secure the Republican nomination.”

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who endorsed Moore in 2017, has already endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and is on record saying former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions would be a favorite.

“I do believe that Jeff Sessions would clearly be number one in the poll rankings, based on his having been such a great senator on three principle issues: free enterprise versus socialism; deficit and debt; and border security,” he explained.

Say what you will, but you do not usually see these kinds of pronouncements from Republicans in the middle of a primary.

Democrats hope 2017 is going to be repeated in 2020, but there are many different factors that will matter.

Roy Moore is already fatally flawed as 300,000+ Republicans voters abandoned him in 2017 and stayed home. Many of those voters will vote in the primary in 2020, but will not vote for him.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) expressed a similar sentiment on CSPAN last week.

“I personally don’t think Roy Moore is going to be our nominee, but whoever our nominee is will prevail in November because you’ll have the full complement of Republican voters turning out turning out to vote,” he said.

This is not 2017.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.