Georgia’s biennial effort to clean up the state’s voter rolls got underway weeks ago, with address confirmation notices going out to hundreds of thousands of residents across metro Atlanta and the state. The action in many ways is routine, while also an important part of the elections process. It ensures an accurate and current voter registration list, a central goal for every state in the nation and required under federal law. But this year, the stakes somehow seem higher. The mailing of the notices unintentionally coincides with a request from the U.S. Justice Department to 44 states including Georgia asking how they remove voters from the rolls who should no longer be eligible to vote.
Articles about voting issues in Georgia.
The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the Fulton County elections board did not give the public enough notice before it approved changes last week that affected several majority African-American precincts. The suit is asking a Fulton judge to rescind the vote until the changes can be re-publicized. Fulton Director of Elections and Registration Richard Barron declined comment on the suit because it was pending litigation.
Georgia’s top elections official stood out by refusing help from the Department of Homeland Security last August amid national concerns about the integrity of U.S. elections. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp called it an attempted federal takeover and insisted his office was already protecting Georgia’s vote from hackers. That stance earned him national media coverage ahead of his campaign for governor. But Kemp’s assurances threatened to become a liability after new details emerged last month about major security mistakes at the center managing Georgia’s election technology. It turns out that the contractor left critical data wide open for months on the internet, and that for the second time under Kemp’s tenure, the personal information of every Georgia voter was exposed. With his critics demanding accountability, Kemp announced Friday that he plans to bring the center’s operations in-house within a year. His brief statement made no mention of the security flaws, saying “the ever-changing landscape of technology demands that we change with it.”
Georgia: State to shift elections work in-house, away from Kennesaw State | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia, for the first time in more than a decade, has decided to move all its elections work in-house after a series of security lapses forced it to step away from its longtime relationship with the beleaguered elections center at Kennesaw State University. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office and university officials both confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the two entities have signed a final contract good through June 2018. For the first time, however, it includes a provision for either party to terminate it midstream. That’s because the office over the next year will build its own team to run Georgia’s elections — work the KSU center has done for the past 15 years. ”Today my office and Kennesaw State University executed what will be the final contract between our two entities related to the Center for Election Systems,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement to the AJC. “The ever-changing landscape of technology demands that we change with it.
Voting being the essential democratic function that it is, the Glynn County Board of Elections is charged with keeping the county’s voting machines running and in good condition. That task has become more difficult this year. The board voted Tuesday to buy five used voting machines from San Diego County, Calif., to use as backups. The machines board members chose to buy have only been used once and can be had at a savings. However, they did not have the option to buy new machines. No county in Georgia does. Glynn County Board of Elections Supervisor Tina Edwards said the board was prompted to buy the machines because the newer models are no longer being sold by the manufacturer, Electronic Systems and Software. San Diego County is the only source of the machines that she is aware of at the moment. The company has no plans to stock more in the near future, leaving Georgia counties with no choice but to buy machines secondhand or from third parties, Edwards said.
The ACLU of Georgia says a letter mailed to nearly 50,000 Fulton County voters, telling them they could be declared inactive because they filed change of address forms but didn’t update their voter registration, is illegal. The letter states that voters have 30 days to confirm their address on their registration record before being deemed inactive, meaning they could be removed in the future. ACLU of Georgia legal director Sean J. Young said the organization plans to sue if Fulton doesn’t correct the issue. The mailers referenced by the ACLU in its Tuesday letter specifically involve voters who have moved within Fulton County. “You cannot say, ‘Do something in 30 days or something bad is going to happen to you,’” Young said. “This kind of nonsense is straight out of the voter suppression playbook.”
The call to overhaul Georgia’s 15-year-old voting system is getting bipartisan support. State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed on social media to work together on an update. The problem isn’t a new one. Georgia’s voting machines leave no paper trail — that means there’s no way to confirm that what someone voted for is what gets recorded. Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb, who represents District 81, said what’s different about this moment is the national conversation about cybersecurity. “Part of Russian foreign policy — this is really simple, it’s not complicated — they purposely involve themselves in manipulating the elections in Western democracies,” Holcomb said. He said ensuring the public’s belief in the accuracy of Georgia’s voting system is especially important in a time when hacking headlines are a daily occurrence.
Karen Handel’s win in the hotly contested 6th Congressional District special election should be thrown out and the contest redone, according to a new lawsuit seeking to ultimately invalidate Georgia’s aging electronic voting system. The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, is the second pursued in less than two months by a Colorado-based group over the security of Georgia’s election infrastructure. The suit says those concerns include private cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb’s finding last year that a misconfigured server at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems — which has helped run Georgia’s elections for the past 15 years — exposed more than 6.5 million voter records and other sensitive information that opponents said could be used to alter results. The same records were accessed a second time earlier this year by another security researcher. The FBI investigated both Lamb’s and the second researcher’s probing but did not file charges, saying neither of the two had broken federal law.
A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp indicated Thursday that Kemp is eager to show a jury why there should not be a rematch between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff in the 6th District Congressional race. The plaintiffs, meanwhile, demonstrated for reporters why they believe their lawsuit has merit. A diverse group of Georgia voters, along with a nonprofit government watchdog group, filed a lawsuit Monday in Fulton County Superior Court demanding that the results of the June 20th special election runoff be tossed out. The suit requests a new election using a paper ballot system. The suit names as defendants Kemp, local elections supervisors who oversaw the runoff election, and Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems and its director, Merle King.
Georgia: Voters, Colorado nonprofit sue to overturn special election results in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District | Colorado Politics
A group of Georgia voters and a Colorado-based watchdog organization filed a lawsuit late Monday asking a judge to overturn the results of last month’s 6th Congressional District special election and scrap the state’s voting system, Colorado Politics has learned. The complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges that state and local election officials ignored warnings for months that Georgia’s centralized election system — already known for potential security flaws and lacking a paper trail to verify results — had been compromised and left unprotected from intruders since at least last summer, casting doubt on Republican Karen Handel’s 3.8-point win over Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race in the nation’s history. … The plaintiffs — including Colorado nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance and Georgia voters from both major political parties and a conservative third party — charge that recent revelations about a security hole on a computer server used to run Georgia elections only amplified longstanding concerns about the state’s antiquated voting equipment and its susceptibility to hackers. “We aren’t questioning one candidate over another,” lead plaintiff Donna Curling told Colorado Politics. “We’re saying it’s impossible to know.”