Georgia Elections Board Won’t Investigate Hall Booth Smith Lawyer in Voting Machine Breach Claims | Thomas Spigolon/Law.com

Georgia’s elections board won’t be investigating two groups’ allegation that a Hall Booth Smith lawyer’s private text message in 2020 suggests he may have withheld information about an alleged voting machine breach similar to a high-profile breach in a neighboring county. Additionally, the election supervisor for Ware County, Georgia, said the alleged breach in December 2020 never happened and that he was not familiar with the text message found during discovery in a long-standing lawsuit seeking to end the use of computer-based voting machines in Georgia. Leaders of the two voter advocacy groups, Free Speech for People and Coalition for Good Governance, asked Georgia’s State Election Board in an April letter to investigate the actions of Anthony Rowell, a Hall Booth partner who represents Ware County government, after a text message was found during discovery in the federal lawsuit Curling v. Raffensperger. Read Article

Georgia oversight panel ruminates on 2020 election hiccups as 2024 showdowns loom | Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

The Georgia Election Board voted Tuesday to reprimand Fulton County and appoint an independent monitor for the 2024 election for violating state law while conducting a recount of the 2020 presidential election. In a 2-1 vote on the panel that oversees how counties conduct elections, members agreed to admonish Fulton County and order a monitor for this year’s campaigns. That allows the county to avoid paying a fine or having the attorney general investigate the double-counting of 3,075 ballots and other allegations of irregularities during the 2020 presidential recount. Georgia election officials determined mistakes in 2020 by county election workers would not have changed the outcome. Read Article

Georgia: Cyberattack hits Coffee County at center of voting software breach | Derek B. Johnson and AJ Vicens/CyberScoop

Earlier this month, Coffee County in Georgia experienced a cyberattack on its computer infrastructure, leading state officials to cut off the county’s access to statewide election systems as a precautionary measure. While Coffee County’s IT infrastructure showed no evidence of data exfiltration, it did indicate cyber activity by an unknown malicious actor, prompting the county to declare a cyber incident and secure its systems. State election officials barred Coffee County from accessing various state systems, including the statewide voter registration system and election management suite, until the security threat is resolved. This incident follows a similar breach in Fulton County earlier this year, raising concerns about the integrity of election systems in counties linked to legal battles over the 2020 election results. Read Article

Georgia’s election laws could create ‘hovering threat’ for poll workers in 2024 | Karissa Waddick/USA Today

Milton Kidd, an election administrator in Georgia since 2012, has observed significant changes in his work environment since the 2020 presidential election. Increased threats from voters and new regulations have strained resources and altered operations in his office. Over half of U.S. states have passed laws since 2021 that could restrict voter access and impede election administration, with former President Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson proposing legislation targeting noncitizen voting. In Georgia, new rules, including those awaiting Governor Brian Kemp’s signature, could further burden election officials and even subject them to criminal penalties. These changes, including heightened scrutiny and reduced timelines for runoff elections, have raised concerns among election workers about recruitment challenges and potential errors amidst tighter deadlines and increased complexity in their roles. Read Article

Georgia election officials and police prepare for voting dangers | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Law enforcement and election officials are gearing up for potential threats to election security and workers in Georgia ahead of the upcoming elections. With concerns over escalating tensions and past incidents of threats, officials are conducting training sessions to prepare for worst-case scenarios, including dealing with disgruntled voters, aggressive poll watchers, and potential evacuation situations. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger emphasizes the importance of ensuring safe and secure elections, acknowledging the contentious and polarized climate. Read Article

Georgia election officials probe claims of Bibb County voting machine security breach | Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is investigating Benjamin Cotton, an election security analyst linked to an alleged breach of the Coffee County voting system, following his claim of examining voting equipment in Macon-Bibb County. Cotton’s statement, made in sworn testimony, raised concerns about the security of Dominion Voting System components used in statewide elections in Georgia since 2020. Advocacy groups have urged an independent investigation into Bibb County’s voting system, highlighting similarities with a breach in Coffee County allegedly involving allies of Donald Trump. Macon-Bibb County election officials deny any illegal access to their voting machines, stating that only authorized personnel have been allowed access. Cotton’s attorney clarified that he examined a backup election database obtained through a public records request. Read Article

Georgia judge rejects Trump bid to dismiss election interference charges on free speech grounds | Dareh Gregorian/NBC

A Georgia judge rejected a motion by former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants to dismiss charges in the state’s election interference case based on First Amendment arguments. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that their right to protest the 2020 election results did not shield them from the charges brought by District Attorney Fani Willis’s office. McAfee emphasized that the alleged conduct, including false statements and attempts to overturn election results, went beyond political speech and activity. Trump’s lawyer indicated they would continue to assess their legal options despite the ruling. Read Article

Georgia lawmakers approve new election rules that could impact 2024 presidential contest | Sudhin Thanawala and Jeff Amy/Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers on Thursday approved new rules for challenging voters and qualifying for the state’s presidential ballot that could impact the 2024 presidential race in the battleground state. Senate Bill 189 passed the House by a vote of 101 to 73 and the Senate by a vote of 33-22, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto. Read Article

Georgia: The Trump effort to infiltrate voting systems was worse than we knew | Susan Greenhalgh/Slate

Evidence presented in a civil trial, Curling v. Raffensperger, unveiled a plot by Trump supporters to obtain Georgia’s voting system software unlawfully in Coffee County and other areas, implicating Sidney Powell and the Trump campaign. Despite this, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger failed to investigate. Attempts to access voting machines were also reported in other counties, but no investigations were initiated by Raffensperger’s office. Meanwhile, Fulton County DA Fani Willis, despite facing challenges, pursued a RICO case using evidence from Curling. The lack of action from Georgia’s state agencies contrasts sharply with the urgency needed to address the potential threats to election integrity. As no federal investigation is apparent, it’s argued that the Department of Justice must intervene to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated and addressed, given its significance for future elections. Read Article

Georgia: Website warning of cyberattack in Fulton County removed after it confused some voters | Ali Swenson/Associated Press

Concerns arose on social media about potential disruptions to Georgia’s presidential primary when warnings of an “unexpected IT outage” appeared on the election website of Fulton County. However, officials clarified that the banner was related to a past cyberattack in January and didn’t signify any issues with the primary election. Despite initial alarm, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger assured reporters that primary voting proceeded smoothly. Read Article

Georgia: What we learned about voting security by touring a county election HQ | Ryan Zickgraf/Atlanta Civic Circle

To explain how the Georgia election was supposedly stolen for President Joe Biden in 2020, former President Donald Trump described the hypothetical sabotage of the voting system simplistically.  “With the turn of a dial or the change of a chip, you can press a button for Trump, and it goes to Biden,” Trump said in a December 2020 speech. A recent behind-the-scenes tour by the Atlanta Civic Circle sheds light on how the system operates, revealing that there are no dials as Trump suggested. Instead, votes are recorded on yellow memory cards, printed on paper ballots with a QR code, and then scanned for tabulation. The system is not connected to the internet until the results are transported to a secure server room. Despite ongoing concerns about security, the voting machines are sealed and monitored extensively, and rigorous testing ensures their functionality ahead of elections. This glimpse into the process highlights the meticulous preparation and security measures involved in conducting elections in Georgia. Read Article

Georgia election officials withheld evidence in voting machine breach, group alleges | Derek B. Johnson/CyberScoop

A Georgia-based nonprofit is seeking sanctions against Coffee County election officials for allegedly withholding crucial evidence related to a breach of voting software. The group claims that officials concealed emails, communications with “Stop the Steal” legal efforts, and security camera footage of forensic experts visiting the office where the software was copied. This breach, part of a broader effort by Trump campaign affiliates to challenge the 2020 election results, is considered serious by cybersecurity experts, raising concerns about future election security. The nonprofit, seeking sanctions and reimbursement of legal costs, argues that the officials’ actions hindered their investigation and impacted depositions. Read Article

Georgia House votes to conduct more audits of computer vote counts | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With an overwhelming majority, the Georgia House has passed a bill mandating human verification of two statewide races during each election cycle. Sponsored by state Rep. John LaHood, the bill seeks to enhance transparency, accuracy, and accountability in elections, moving away from relying solely on computer counts. After the contentious 2020 presidential election, which saw a manual audit confirming the computer count, the proposed legislation calls for audits of the top race on the ballot and another statewide race chosen by key state officials. Read Article

Georgia: Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of ballot stuffing | Russ Bynum/Associated Press

A conservative group, True the Vote, admitted to a Georgia judge that it lacks evidence to support its claims of illegal ballot stuffing during the 2020 general election and a subsequent runoff. Despite filing complaints alleging coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes across metro Atlanta, the group failed to provide any names or documentary evidence to state elections officials, frustrating their investigation. True the Vote’s assertions were featured in a debunked film and sparked controversy, leading to legal battles and accusations of false claims. Despite efforts by Georgia officials to compel the group to disclose information, True the Vote came up empty-handed, prompting skepticism about the validity of its allegations and its overall credibility. Read Article

Georgia: ‘Nightmarish’ or simple switch? After voting machine trial, a federal judge’s decision may lead to hand marking paper ballots | Timothy Pratt/Atlanta Civic Circle

A federal trial spanning nearly three weeks concerning the constitutionality of Georgia’s voting machines concluded, with the state’s defense focusing on costs and logistics rather than cybersecurity, the central concern of the plaintiffs. The trial, initiated six years ago, involves an election integrity nonprofit and Georgia voters against the Secretary of State’s Office, alleging that the state’s computerized voting machines pose a hacking risk, violating voters’ constitutional rights. The plaintiffs argued for enjoining the use of Dominion Voting Systems touchscreen machines, potentially shifting to hand marked ballots for the upcoming presidential election. The defense emphasized the impracticality and costs of such a transition, lacking cybersecurity experts in their witness lineup. The trial also highlighted the Coffee County incident, dubbed the largest elections systems breach in U.S. history, as a central issue, underscoring concerns over voting system vulnerabilities. Despite logistical concerns raised by the state, plaintiffs pointed out the state’s successful transition to current machines within 10 months, urging a similar adjustment. Read Article

Georgia Senate approves ban on counting ballots from QR codes | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Senate, voting along party lines, has approved a bill to eliminate the use of bar codes on ballots, opting instead to count votes directly from printed text or filled-in ovals next to candidate names. Republicans argue that this change would enhance election security and minimize the risk of tampering, although there’s no evidence of breaches in Georgia’s voting machines during elections. However, implementing this change before the upcoming presidential election appears unlikely due to time constraints and the associated costs, estimated at $15 million or more. While Democrats criticize the proposal as costly and impractical, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger maintains that Georgia’s voting system is secure as is, and eliminating QR codes before the presidential election would be unfeasible. Read Article

Georgia election security trial becomes a magnet for unfounded 2020 fraud claims | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In a federal trial initially centered on the security of Dominion voting machines in Georgia, conservative interests have successfully co-opted the proceedings, steering the narrative towards unproven accusations of wrongdoing in the 2020 presidential election. Originally filed in 2017 by voters concerned about the safety of electronic voting equipment, the trial now features claims of “pristine” counterfeit ballots, ballot tampering, and baseless allegations of wireless access to voting machines. Figures like “My Pillow Guy” Mike Lindell have amplified these conspiracy theories, diverting attention from the primary plaintiffs’ argument that electronic voting machines are unsafe for future use. Critics argue that the trial’s focus on unfounded claims risks undermining the credibility of the case, distracting from the crucial issue of election security. Read Article

Georgia voting machine trial closes with argument over election security | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 17-day trial questioning the security of Georgia’s Dominion voting machines concluded with closing arguments, leaving U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to decide whether the machines pose an unconstitutional threat to voting rights. The case, which could impact how in-person voters cast their ballots in the upcoming November 2024 election, focused on the potential vulnerability of the $107 million voting system purchased in 2019. Plaintiffs argued for a ban on touchscreens in favor of hand-marked paper ballots, citing concerns about cybersecurity threats and the reliability of the machines. Totenberg did not indicate when she would issue a ruling. Read Article

Georgia: ‘A recipe for violence’: Election officials on edge for ruling from federal judge | John Sakellariadis/Politico

Five years ago, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg won plaudits from U.S. election officials for forcing Georgia to ditch its electronic voting machines because they were too susceptible to hacks. Now Totenberg is weighing a similar order against the state’s new machines — only this time, a slew of election officials are begging her not to do so. Current and former officials from both parties at the local, state and federal level argue that Georgia’s current voting machines are far less prone to sabotage than their predecessors — which didn’t produce any sort of paper record. But most of all, more than a dozen officials stressed their dread that ordering changes just months ahead of the 2024 presidential vote could undermine trust in the election, overwhelming local election officials and emboldening election deniers all in one breath. Read Article

Georgia: Expert shows how to tamper with ballot marking device in security trial | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In a federal courtroom, University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman demonstrated how Georgia’s ballot marking devices could be manipulated in seconds. Halderman changed hypothetical referendum results and rigged a theoretical election between President George Washington and Benedict Arnold by altering the machine’s code. He used a fake voter card, a pen, or a USB device to print unlimited ballots. The presentation was part of an election security trial assessing Georgia’s voting system’s vulnerability to manipulation. Election officials countered, emphasizing real-world security and claiming no evidence of past hacks. Plaintiffs argue for paper ballots amid concerns about potential vulnerabilities. The trial will be decided by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Read Article

Georgia: ‘State doesn’t understand the technology’: Plaintiffs rest their case | Timothy Pratt/Atlanta Civic Circle

A federal trial, six years in the making, has reached its midpoint as computer experts express concerns about cyber vulnerabilities in Georgia’s touchscreen voting machines. The case involves an election integrity nonprofit and Georgia voters against the Secretary of State’s office, claiming that the state’s computerized voting machines face an unacceptable risk of being hacked, infringing on voters’ constitutional rights. The plaintiffs argue for voters to mark paper ballots by hand, as opposed to using the current Dominion Voting Systems ballot marking devices. Read Article

Georgia: Details of voting equipment breach emerge in voting system security trial | Megan Butler/Courthouse News Service

During the trial over the security of Dominion voting machine systems in Georgia, details emerged about a hack coordinated by co-defendants of former President Donald Trump. The hack involved copying confidential election data from an elections office in Coffee County, arranged by individuals now indicted alongside Trump on election interference charges. The incident has become central to a legal battle over the security of Georgia’s voting machines, with plaintiffs arguing it exposes vulnerabilities in Dominion’s systems. The trial is expected to continue for another two weeks, while prosecutors aim for an August start date for Trump’s election interference trial.

Georgia voters push for hand marked paper ballots in trial over Dominion voting machine security | Megan Butler/Courthouse News Service

Georgia voters and members of the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonprofit focused on election transparency, testified in a trial challenging Georgia’s use of Dominion ballot marking devices. The plaintiffs argue that the QR codes on the ballots, used by the Dominion system, make it difficult for voters to ensure their intended selections are accurately conveyed and counted. The voters expressed a lack of trust in the machine system and preferred hand-marked paper ballots. Read Article

Georgia: Trial gets underway for constitutional challenge to state’s voting system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

In a trial that began Tuesday, voters are asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to order the state to stop using the Dominion Voting Systems touchscreen machines used by nearly every in-person voter statewide. Instead, they argue, most voters should fill out hand-marked paper ballots, with a touchscreen machine at each polling place for people with disabilities. That would ensure voter intent is accurately captured and that meaningful audits can be done, they argue. Read Article

Georgia Speaker Burns seeks to end ballot QR codes, add oversight | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, a Republican, has proposed the elimination of encoding voter selections on paper ballots and increased oversight of the secretary of state’s office to address concerns about the state’s voting technology. Critics argue that Georgia’s current voting equipment, manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, is not trustworthy, and a federal trial is examining the security of the system. Read Article

Georgia:  trial set to begin will decide if state’s voting system is constitutional | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Election integrity activists are seeking a federal judge’s intervention to halt Georgia’s use of Dominion Voting Systems ballot marking devices as a universal voting system, claiming they are vulnerable to attacks and pose operational risks that could compromise voters’ rights. The activists argue that the use of the machines violate the constitution, while election officials assert their security and reliability. The trial, set to begin, centers on a lawsuit filed in 2017 targeting the paperless AccuVote TSX DREs, which were replaced by the Dominion voting system in 2019. The activists advocate for a switch to hand-marked paper ballots with robust audits. The case predates baseless conspiracy theories about Dominion machines that emerged after the 2020 election. Read Article

Georgia: Heated election year might bring more changes to voting laws | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia legislators are considering various election-related proposals, driven by Republican concerns over the 2020 election, internal GOP power struggles, and a desire to enhance voter trust. Among the potential measures are allowing the State Election Board to investigate Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, ending no-excuse absentee voting, and verifying computer codes on ballots. Other considerations include eliminating runoffs, permitting public inspections of paper ballots, tightening ballot handling procedures, and allowing voters to fill out paper ballots by hand. While no priority has been set, many election bills are introduced yearly, and some become law, such as the 2021 voting law that restricted ballot drop boxes and imposed other restrictions. Read Article

Georgia: Missing 2020 poll tapes don’t prove 20,713 votes never existed. Other records are available | Melissa Goldin/Associated Press

The claim that 20,713 votes in Fulton County, Georgia, included in the 2020 election night tally do not exist is false. A complaint to the Georgia State Election Board mentioned an email from Fulton County stating that poll tapes from 10 machines “do not exist.” Poll tapes, though important, are just one part of the paper trail documenting the vote, recorded on memory cards and in official statements released by Georgia counties. Three separate counts of Georgia’s votes consistently found similar results in Fulton County, with Joe Biden winning both the county and the state each time. Mark Lindemann, Verified Voting’s policy and strategy director, noted that missing poll tapes are not suspicious, citing factors like a new voting system and the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Article

Georgia: Local elections officials inundated with records requests by rightwing activists | Jewel Wicker/The Guardian

Georgia elections officials are facing an increased workload and stress due to an influx of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and open records requests from rightwing activists who believe in unfounded claims of election fraud in the 2020 election. Deb Cox, elections director of Lowndes County, has seen the number of FOIA requests rise significantly, straining resources and requiring additional staff hours. Across the U.S., similar trends are observed, with election-denying activists seeking extensive information to substantiate false claims about the 2020 election and to influence future elections. The increased workload adds pressure to elections officials, particularly in swing states like Georgia, as they prepare for the 2024 presidential election. Read Article