Georgia’s outdated voting machines are in the spotlight as election integrity advocates try to convince the state’s highest court that a judge shouldn’t have dismissed a lawsuit challenging the outcome of November’s race for lieutenant governor. The lawsuit says tens of thousands of votes were never recorded in the race and the contest was “so defective and marred by material irregularities” as to place the result in doubt. It contends an unexplained undervote in the race was likely caused by problems with the state’s paperless touchscreen voting machines. Republican Geoff Duncan beat Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes to become lieutenant governor.Full Article: Georgia high court to hear appeal in election challenge | The Atlanta Voice.
Articles about voting issues in Georgia.
The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear oral arguments Tuesday on a challenge to last year’s election of the state’s lieutenant governor. The high court took the appeal after Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs tossed out a suit contesting the election of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan last January. A slate of plaintiffs including the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonprofit organization focused on election integrity; Smythe Duval, the Libertarian Party’s 2018 candidate for secretary of state; and voters from Fulton and Morgan counties challenged the lieutenant governor’s election, claiming that electronic voting anomalies not reflected in the paper ballot count showed a significant and unexplainable undervote. Duncan, the Republican candidate, won the race by 123,172 votes out of 3.78 million ballots cast. But plaintiffs attorney Bruce Brown contended that as many as 127,000 votes may have been affected. Duncan’s Democratic challenger, Sarah Riggs Amico, is not a plaintiff, although the lawsuit mirrors a complaint she made last November to Georgia’s secretary of state citing “significant anomalies” with “an unusually high rate” of residual undervotes that were either invalid, not recorded or never cast on electronic ballots in the lieutenant governor’s race.Full Article: Georgia Supreme Court to Hear Appeal in Challenge to Lt. Governor's Election | Daily Report.
Georgia: Potential vulnerabilities of new Georgia voting machines evaluated | Atlanta Journal Constitution
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is gauging potential vulnerabilities of the type of voting machines that will soon be used in Georgia. The federal government will work with election officials to better understand the security and auditability of voting systems, said Scott McConnell, a spokesman for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security.“This includes helping to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities for deployed systems as well as informing the development of future systems,” McConnell said. Georgia is preparing to buy a $150 million statewide election system with voting machines called ballot-marking devices. Like the state’s current electronic voting machines, voters using the new ballot-marking devices will choose their candidates on touchscreens. Then printers will create paper ballots for voters to review and insert into scanning computers for tabulation.Federal scrutiny of voting technology comes after a study published last week pointed out weaknesses in ballot-marking devices.If ballot-marking devices are hacked or tampered with, they could print out falsified ballots, according to the study by three cybersecurity experts.Full Article: Potential vulnerabilities of new Georgia voting machines evaluated.
A sweeping lawsuit challenging the way Georgia elections are run is being put to an initial test as a federal judge considers a request by state election officials to toss it out. The lawsuit was filed weeks after Republican Brian Kemp narrowly beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in a governor’s race that focused national scrutiny on Georgia’s outdated voting machines and on allegations of voter suppression by Kemp, who was the state’s top election official during the race. Kemp has adamantly denied allegations of wrongdoing. He signed legislation earlier this month that includes specifications for a new voting system , which the current secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, says he’ll implement in time for the 2020 election cycle. The lawsuit accuses the secretary of state and election board members of mismanaging the 2018 election in ways that deprived some citizens, particularly low-income people and minorities, of their constitutional right to vote. It seeks substantial reforms and asks that Georgia be required to get a federal judge’s approval before changing voting rules.Full Article: Challenge to Georgia election system faces first court test :: WRAL.com.
Georgia: Voting system contract attracts bids from large election companies | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At least four election companies submitted confidential bids before Tuesday’s deadline to sell voting machines to Georgia, which plans to become the first state to roll out touchscreen-and-printer voting technology for every voter starting next year. The competition for the state’s $150 million contract will now be evaluated by government officials, and a decision on the state’s next election company is scheduled for mid-July. The selection process will fuel debates over election integrity and ongoing lawsuits following a contentious decision by the Georgia General Assembly to switch from electronic voting machines to a similar system that adds printed-out paper ballots. Critics say both systems are inherently insecure, and they want Georgia to use paper ballots filled out by hand. The Secretary of State’s Office wouldn’t release any information about the companies bidding on the contract, citing a state law that exempts proposals and cost estimates from public disclosure until the government gives notice of intent to award a contract to the successful bidder. The law says disclosure would undermine the goal of obtaining the best value during negotiations. But four large election companies confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they submitted bids before Tuesday’s deadline.
When some Georgia voters showed up at the polls last fall, their registrations had mysteriously disappeared without a trace. They couldn’t vote except on provisional ballots. The unsolved case of the missing voter registrations and a federal lawsuit prompted state lawmakers to pass a bill requiring election officials to strengthen protections against hacking, tampering and computer errors.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger would be responsible for creating security protocols for voter registration information consistent with standards set by national cybersecurity and election organizations, according to House Bill 392.The bill is awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature or veto. Kemp’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.“If the governor signs it, this bill will represent a significant upgrade to the security of the system,” said Max Feldman, an attorney for the Brennan Center for Justice, a policy institute at New York University focused on democracy and criminal justice that is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Ensuring that any sort of gaps in security that would expose voters’ registration information or allow third parties to change registration information on the voter registration list is what we’re hoping will be addressed here.”Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said the legislation puts the force of law behind the state’s existing security procedures.“Security of the voting system is Secretary Raffensperger’s top priority,” Fuchs said. “This law recognizes that priority and should help put an end to unfounded speculation and meritless claims that our election data is not secure.”Full Article: Bill calls for Georgia voter registration security protocols.
Critics of Georgia’s outdated voting system told a judge on Tuesday that a new system outlined by lawmakers has many of the same fundamental flaws and is unconstitutional. A law signed last week by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new voting system. Bids are due later this month, and state officials say they plan to implement the new system in time for next year’s presidential election. Lawyers for the Coalition for Good Governance and for a group of voters, who had filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election system, told U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg they plan to ask her initially to stop the state from using the current machines for special and municipal elections scheduled this year. Ultimately, they said, they want her to prohibit the state from using the current paperless machines, as well as the ballot-marking machines provided for in the new law. Lawyers for the state argued complaints about the current voting system have been made irrelevant by the new law and that complaints about ballot-marking machines can’t be considered yet because the state hasn’t even selected a new system.Full Article: Critics say new voting system planned for Georgia is flawed | WSB-TV.
How you vote in Georgia will be changing, according to a new law signed recently by Governor Brian Kemp. The law calls for scrapping the old, and now somewhat controversial, voting machines. Those will be replaced with a new system including what is termed “Electronic Ballot Marking Devices” as well as new types of digital scanners to actually record votes. Supporters, which include many state lawmakers as well as Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, say the new system will provide a verifiable paper trail. Opponents say just the opposite. “The state is going to spend $150 million to $200 million and not be one bit better off than they are today,” said Marilyn Marks from the Coalition for Good Governance. “They should just keep the un-auditable system.” Marks’ group is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the State of Georgia over issues from the 2018 election. Marks has a list of concerns starting with the Electronic Marking Devices, which it’s said will print out a paper ballot that can then be verified by a voter and ultimately scanned by the digital scanner to actually cast the ballot. She says two of the largest vendors that make these machines don’t really provide a paper ballot per se, but actually something more like a bar code. Marks asserts any new system will not truly have a verifiable paper trail and that she expects “many court challenges.”Full Article: Georgia moving forward with new type of voting system; some opponents react.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system, after a polarizing debate over how to balance the integrity of the vote with ensuring accurate election results. The Republican was long expected to sign House Bill 316, which divided Republicans and Democrats over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen.But the timing and quiet nature of the bill signing was peculiar: His office said in a notice posted on his website Wednesday that Kemp inked the bill, along with 20 lower-profile measures, on Tuesday during the last day of the legislative session.The overhaul was introduced with Kemp’s blessing after his narrow election victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who cast the Republican as an “architect of voter suppression” and accused him of creating barriers to ballot access.Full Article: Georgia governor inks law to replace voting machines .
Georgia: Paulding’s Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | mdjonline
Paulding’s election supervisor will help lead a new statewide election workers organization as they learn to operate a new electronic voting system by the 2020 presidential election. Deidre Holden will join with Athens-Clarke County elections director Charlotte Sosebee to lead the new Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Election Officials after the merger of two long-standing groups whose members were involved in conducting Georgia elections for half a century. The two groups, the Voter Registrars Association of Georgia and the Georgia Election Officials Association, worked for years to merge after their members increasingly were assigned the same duties in recent decades, Holden said. The new group is forming as election officials statewide begin training to operate the new $150 million system of ballot-marking devices the Georgia General Assembly approved this year. Paulding’s elections office will use the new machines in the Dallas and Hiram municipal elections in November as part of a pilot program, Holden said.Full Article: Paulding's Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | News | mdjonline.com.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to sign a bill to overhaul the state’s voting system with machines that are widely considered vulnerable to hacking. The new equipment would replace the state’s paperless, electronic machines — technology so risky that a federal judge said last year that its continued use threatened Georgians’ “constitutional interests.” But security researchers say similar risks exist in the new electronic machines that the GOP-led legislature has chosen, which would embed the voter’s choice in a barcode on a slip of paper. The warnings from cybersecurity experts, election integrity advocates and Georgia Democrats are especially troubling given the abundant warnings from U.S. intelligence leaders that Russia will once again attempt to undermine the presidential election in 2020. “The bill’s sponsors made false and misleading statements during the entire legislative session in hearings leading up to the vote, often flatly contradicting objective evidence or mischaracterizing scientific writing,” said Georgia Institute of Technology computer science professor Rich DeMillo, who testified throughout the process.Full Article: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines - POLITICO.
Legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system is heading to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature after winning final approval from state lawmakers Thursday. The Georgia House’s 101-69 vote, mostly along party lines, concluded a polarized debate over how to protect democracy and ensure accurate election results. Republicans and Democrats fiercely disagreed over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen. The Republican majority’s decision to go with voting machines and printed ballots comes in time for the system to be in place for next year’s presidential election, when the state’s 7 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots.
The $150 million statewide system that won approval includes the same kind of touchscreens that Georgia voters have been using for the past 17 years. Printers are designed to spit out paper ballots for voters to review and then insert into a scanning machine for tabulation. The state’s current voting machines lack a paper ballot.Full Article: Final vote approves new Georgia statewide voting machines.
Georgia: Bill seeks switch to ballot-marking devices for Georgia elections | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A broad elections bill introduced Thursday would replace Georgia’s electronic voting system with touchscreens that print ballots before they’re counted. The printed ballots would create a paper trail to check the accuracy of election results. Georgia’s current direct-recording electronic voting machines lack a paper backup. The legislation, House Bill 316, follows the recommendations of a voting commission created by Gov. Brian Kemp last year when he was secretary of state. The commission favored the touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, over paper ballots filled out with a pen or pencil. Election integrity advocates say paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure, but supporters of ballot-marking devices say they’re easier to use and more likely to accurately record votes. Ballot-marking devices print ballots that are then counted by optical scanning machines.
Georgia: Voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections | Politico
Lawsuits, complaints about lax security and accusations of voter suppression marred Georgia’s election for governor in November. But the state’s race for lieutenant governor had its own trouble, Democrats and election security advocates say. The contest between Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico drew far less national attention than the marquee governor’s race in which GOP candidate Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams. But plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state say abnormalities in the lieutenant governor’s election raise questions about Duncan’s victory — and potentially about the outcome of other races on the ballot if the state’s electronic voting machines were to blame. In addition to the lawsuit, Amico asked the state to investigate irregularities in the election. The problem: Georgians cast nearly 4 million ballots on Election Day, but about 160,000 of them showed no vote cast in the lieutenant governor race, about 4.3 percent of ballots. To election experts, this so-called “undervote” rate — when a race is left blank — is evidence either that Georgia voters were unusually apathetic about their lieutenant governor, or that something went wrong.Full Article: Georgia voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections - POLITICO.
Georgia: New Analysis Suggests Link Between Race And Odd Vote Count In Georgia’s 2018 Midterms | WABE
A new data analysis suggests the sharp drop in votes in the lieutenant governor’s election last year may be connected to the race of voters. The finding raised more questions about the results of the down-ballot contest in which Republican Geoff Duncan handily defeated Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico. Compared to the governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, about 160,000 fewer votes were cast in the lieutenant governor’s contest, while just 82,000 fewer votes were cast in the attorney general’s contest.Full Article: New Analysis Suggests Link Between Race And Odd Vote Count In Georgia’s 2018 Midterms | 90.1 FM WABE.
Georgia: US appeals court ruling allows paper ballots lawsuit to move ahead | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge’s ruling that said Georgia’s electronic voting system poses a “concrete risk” to secure elections. The decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows the voting system lawsuit to move forward. The plaintiffs, who are election integrity advocates and concerned voters, want U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to switch Georgia’s statewide voting system to hand-marked paper ballots. Totenberg ruled in September that the plaintiffs will likely succeed in the lawsuit, but she denied their request to immediately switch to paper ballots so close to November’s midterm elections. “Now we can get past the defendants’ delays and move forward with the case on the merits and get the relief Judge Totenberg already ruled we’re entitled to,” said David Cross, an attorney for Georgia voters who sued. “This appeal was meritless from the start.”Full Article: US appeals court ruling allows paper ballots lawsuit to move ahead.
A federal appeals court says a lawsuit over the state’s outdated election system can continue. The 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a ruling Thursday that said that it did not have the jurisdiciton to hear the state’s assertion the two groups of plaintiffs had standing to file suit, and that the state was not immune from being sued in this particular case. In September, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg denied a preliminary injunction that would have moved the state’s 159 counties to hand-marked paper ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 general election, and also denied the state’s request to dismiss the suit. In October, Totenberg issued a stay in the proceedings pending the appeal to the 11th Circuit.
A judge on Friday ordered a rare second do-over election for a northeast Georgia House seat, finding that four voters didn’t live in the district, throwing its outcome into doubt. The new election means that voters will return to the polls for a third time to decide between Republicans Dan Gasaway and Chris Erwin. Erwin appeared to win the first redo of the election in December by just two votes, but Senior Superior Court Judge David Sweat decided Friday that four voters had moved out of House District 28 more than 30 days before the election. Because the contest was so close, the judge found that the four improper votes justified a new election. “If you’re in an election, you should want to win it legally. We all should,” Gasaway said. “I don’t know that I’ll win, but if I win I want it to be a legal election, and if I lose I want it to be a legal election.”Full Article: Judge orders second redo of Georgia House election..
Georgia: Stacey Abrams to Take to Georgia Airwaves During Super Bowl Calling for Hand-Marked Paper Ballots | Associated Press
Before Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams delivers her party’s rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, she’ll take her voting rights campaign to the airwaves during the Super Bowl. Abrams’ political group, Fair Fight, has bought airtime on Georgia affiliates during Sunday’s NFL broadcast so the Atlanta Democrat can push for election law changes. Abrams narrowly lost her November bid to become the first black woman to be elected governor, in a contest marred by disputes over ballot access and integrity. But she is still a rising star among national Democrats and is their top choice to run for a Georgia Senate seat in 2020. In the Super Bowl ad, Abrams appears alongside a white Republican county commissioner from north Georgia. They call for hand-marked paper ballots to replace Georgia’s touch-screen voting system. “We don’t agree on everything,” says the Republican, Natalie Crawford. “But we love Georgia,” Abrams says, later adding, “Every vote should be counted, from every corner of our state.”Full Article: Stacey Abrams to Take to Georgia Airwaves During Super Bowl - The New York Times.
Georgia: ES&S’s close ties to election officials stir concerns about voting system purchase | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When Gov. Brian Kemp hired an election company’s lobbyist this month, the move raised alarm bells about one company’s influence on Georgia’s upcoming purchase of a new statewide voting system. Concerns from government accountability advocates only grew days later, when a commission created by Kemp recommended that the state buy the type of voting machines sold by the lobbyist’s company, Election Systems & Software. Several other vendors also offer similar voting machines. Then Kemp proposed spending $150 million on a new statewide voting system, an amount that matches estimates for the cost of the system promoted by ES&S, called ballot-marking devices, which use a combination of touchscreens and ballot printers. The latest moves fueled suspicions that cozy connections between lobbyists, Kemp and other elected officials will lead to ES&S winning a rich contract to sell its computerized voting products to the state government, even though 55 percent of Georgia voters said in a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this month that they prefer a cheaper system where paper ballots are filled in by voters.Full Article: Advocates question election company's links to Georgia officials.