When Georgia voters head to the polls for the state’s primary today, they’ll cast their ballots on aging electronic voting machines that government officials and security experts agree are easy to hack. But if a long-shot federal lawsuit succeeds, they could vote in a much more secure way come November: On paper. As the intelligence community warns against a repeat of the kind of digital interference we saw in the 2016 elections, a nonpartisan advocacy organization and a group of Georgia voters are asking a judge to compel the state to abandon its electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots before the midterm elections. The electronic machines produce no paper vote record, making them virtually impossible to audit. The plaintiffs want the state instead to switch to a hand-marked paper ballot system, which experts widely regard as safer because the results can be easily verified.
“Given what we’ve learned about election interference and what’s expected in the midterms, you can’t go forward with a machine that can’t be audited,” said David Cross, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “If we can get the relief we want before November, the system will be much more secure.” The plaintiffs’ goal is to have such a system in place before Nov. 6, even if it means having every Georgia voter cast a paper absentee ballot for the time being.
They face an uphill battle. Similar legal challenges have failed in other states in recent years, with judges showing a reluctance to order states to change their systems.