As Georgia’s top elections official runs for governor, a federal judge said the state has stalled too long in the face of “a mounting tide of evidence of the inadequacy and security risks” of its voting system. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is in the midst of a closely watched race against Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state House minority leader who’s trying to become the country’s first black, female governor. He has repeatedly insisted that Georgia’s current voting system is secure. Voting integrity advocates sued last year, arguing that the touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and provide no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there’s no paper trail. They sought an immediate change to paper ballots for the midterm elections while the case is pending. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg declined to grant that request Monday, saying that although voting integrity advocates have demonstrated “the threat of real harms to their constitutional interests,” she worried about the “massive scrambling” required for a last-minute change to paper ballots. Early voting starts Oct. 15 for the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Kemp said in an emailed statement that his office will continue to prepare for “a secure, orderly election in November” and will move forward “to responsibly upgrade Georgia’s secure — but aging — voting system.”
“As I have said many times over, our state needs a verifiable paper trail, but we cannot make such a dramatic change this election cycle,” he said.
Abrams, who was campaigning Tuesday with former President Jimmy Carter, did not specifically reference the judge’s ruling in an emailed statement.
“As the founder of a nonprofit dedicated to registering voters and as the former House Democratic Leader, I know Georgians are hungry for leaders who will make sure every voice can count at the polls,” Abrams said. She promised that as governor, she would “continue to ensure our elections are safe, secure, and accessible.”