It occurred to me earlier this month, as security guards muscled me away from the doors behind which North Fulton County election officials were downloading vote totals, that the reason I don’t trust Georgia’s election system is that the people who run it act like they have something to hide. Georgia’s aging, vulnerable, unverifiable, mismanaged, electronic voting machines are famously insecure. They’ve been hacked dozens of times, most recently at last summer’s DEFCON 25 Hacker convention in Las Vegas, where a group with little experience in voting technology gained complete control over how Georgia’s voting machines register and store votes. Even the tech center that manages state machines has been breached. It was discovered in March 2017 that sensitive voter data, passwords and software had been exposed to possibly millions of unauthorized users. Despite agreement among U.S. intelligence services that Russian hacking represents a severe threat, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has shown little interest in election security, dismissing threats as “fake news.” Yet those aren’t the main reasons I mistrust the system.
I’ve observed elections in countries notorious for democratic abuses. Yet even those elections were public events. When I asked Chris Harvey, Georgia’s election chief, for credentials to observe Atlanta’s December 5 mayoral runoff, he said credentials were unnecessary. “Elections are designed to be publicly viewable,” he said.
To avoid any confusion, I came armed with a letter from the ACLU with the subject line “Counting ballots in secret in violation of O.C.G.A §21-2-406.” A half dozen of us, including Tara, a videographer for a documentary on voting machines, came to observe. I introduced myself to the poll manager and said I would like to watch the shutdown, when technicians download vote totals to memory cards and begin the vote-counting process.
“Impossible,” she said. “You’re not even supposed to be here.” I showed her Harvey’s email, to no avail; she was certain elections are not public events. A copy of the Georgia election training manual materialized, and someone read aloud the portion about the right to observe. The poll manager told the burly Sheriff Department officer, who was the enforcer for the evening, that I was trouble.
Full Article: Georgia’s Election System Can’t Be Trusted – Bloomberg.