Before this November’s election, a federal judge will have to decide whether Georgia’s electronic voting machines are too hackable to be used any longer. A lawsuit pending in federal court is trying to force the state government to immediately abandon its 16-year-old touchscreen machines and instead rely on paper ballots. The plaintiffs, a group of election integrity activists and voters, say the courts need to step in to safeguard democracy in Georgia. Legislation to replace the state’s electronic voting machines failed to pass at the Georgia Capitol this year, and tech experts have repeatedly shown how malware could change election results. But Georgia election officials say the state’s digital voting system is safe and accurate. Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently recertified the machines after tests showed they correctly reported election results.
While scrapping the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines within the next five months would be a drastic move, it’s necessary to ensure that hackers aren’t altering election results, said Donna Price, a plaintiff in the case and the director for Georgians for Verified Voting, a group advocating for a paper voting system.
“We are asked to trust the word of the election officials that votes are counted as cast. That is not acceptable,” Price said. “No matter what our political beliefs, election outcomes are a matter of life and death: Do we have health care when sick? Do our kids go to war? Is our system of government safe?”
Georgia is one of five states that reliesentirely on electronic voting machines that don’t leave an independent paper backup. Roughly 70 percent of the country uses some form of paper ballots, which are invulnerable to digital tampering.