Georgia

Articles about voting issues in Georgia.

Georgia: Voters begin casting ballots on new Georgia election system | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The first Georgia voters to test the state’s new voting machines cast their ballots Monday, with some voters in Paulding County praising the addition of a paper ballot and others saying the voting equipment was more cumbersome than what they’re accustomed to using. Election officials rolled out the new voting system in six counties for local elections as in-person early voting began Monday. The $107 million system, which combines touchscreens and computer-printed paper ballots, will be used by all voters statewide on March 24 for the presidential primary. A few minor problems surfaced when polls opened in Paulding, located about 35 miles west of Atlanta.

Full Article: Voters begin casting ballots on new Georgia election system.

Georgia: Previously redacted Georgia election security document made public | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia secretary of state’s office acknowledged Thursday that a vendor had improperly redacted a purchasing document detailing security features of the state’s new $107 million voting system. The unredacted 143-page document was posted on the secretary of state’s website Thursday. The document, which explains “high level security” of the state’s new voting check-in iPads, doesn’t compromise the integrity of the system, according to the secretary of state’s office. The document was made public “in the spirit of good governance and transparency” after the secretary of state’s office was alerted about the redactions, said Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs. “Our new voting system, including new Poll Pads, are our most secure system to date,” Fuchs said. The iPads will be provided by a company called KnowInk, which is working with Dominion Voting Systems to install the new voting technology statewide before the March 24 presidential primary.

Full Article: Previously redacted Georgia election security document made public.

Georgia: Under Court Order, Georgia Rolls Out New Voting System | Daniel Jackson/Courthouse News

The plastic film protecting the screens of four tablets used to mark ballots were not yet peeled off, though they were growing dog-eared on the edges, when residents of Catoosa County became some of the first voters in the state to test Georgia’s new voting machines. About 50 residents of Catoosa County sipped on fruit punch in the building that houses the Catoosa County Elections & Voter Registration Department Monday evening. In a few moments, they were about to cast ballots in a demonstration election that asked questions such as the name of Georgia’s state bird (the brown thrasher). Georgia announced in July that it had chosen a new method of conducting elections after a contentious 2018 gubernatorial election left voting rights activists questioning the integrity of the state’s voting system. A ballot-marking system that allows voters to fill out their votes on a screen, which prints out a ballot, which the voter then feeds into a scanner produced by Dominion Voting Systems was the winning bid, costing the state $107 million. Most Georgia voters will continue to use the old system, which records votes digitally, one last time in November elections this year. Catoosa County, a short drive from the Tennessee city of Chattanooga, is one of six counties piloting the new system, which include Carroll, Bartow, Decatur, Paulding and Lowndes counties. It’s a voting system that, according to its critics, failed to solve the problems of the old voting system.

Full Article: Under Court Order, Georgia Rolls Out New Voting System.

Georgia: Election security investigation opened after Atlanta computers stolen | Mark Niesse and Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opened an investigation Wednesday into Fulton County’s election security procedures after two voting check-in computers were stolen from an Atlanta precinct. “It is unacceptable that bad actors entered a polling location under the cover of night and were able to steal critical elections machinery,” Raffensperger said. Atlanta police are also investigating the theft of the express poll computers from the Grove Park Recreation Center, which occurred the night before Tuesday’s special election for a seat on the city school board. New computers were brought in before polls opened Tuesday morning. Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections, said the county will be reviewing its procedures, but poll workers did what they were supposed to do. “Other than providing 24-hour security at all polling locations, I’m unsure how you secure every building,” he said. “Ours was in a government facility that had an alarm and was locked.”

Full Article: Georgia officials opened an election security investigation.

Georgia: Check-in computers stolen in Atlanta hold statewide voter data | Mark Niesse and Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two computers that are used to check in voters were stolen from a west Atlanta precinct hours before polls opened Tuesday for a city school board election. Officials replaced the computers before voters arrived, and the election wasn’t disrupted, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.The express poll computers contain names, addresses, birth dates and driver’s license information for every voter in the state, said Richard Barron, Fulton County’s elections director. They don’t include Social Security numbers. They are password-protected, and the password changes for every election.The computers, which were in a locked and sealed case, haven’t been recovered.Poll workers discovered the burglary early Tuesday morning at the Grove Park Recreation Center near Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway.Atlanta police said they were first called to the recreation center at 12:30 a.m. on an alarm call. They found an unlocked door but saw no one inside. When election employees arrived, they told police “the kitchen had been ransacked,” a microwave had been moved to a different room, food items were missing and the express poll machines were missing, Atlanta police Sgt. John Chafee said. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he’s concerned about the stolen election equipment. “They may not have realized what they were stealing. They may have just thought they were stealing computer hardware of some sort, but they stole a whole lot more than they thought,” Raffensperger said. “They’re in a whole lot of trouble. There will be a thorough investigation.”

Full Article: Voter check-in computers were stolen from an Atlanta precinct.

Georgia: State gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound | Mark Niesse and Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The 2,271 people eligible to vote in Chattahoochee Hills may feel like they’re stepping back in time whenever they cast a ballot for the City Council or mayor. In much of the rest of the state, electronic voting machines are standard for each and every election. But in Chattahoochee Hills and about 70 other cities, residents vote using paper ballots. In many of those cities, the votes are even tallied by hand.On election night in Chattahoochee Hills, residents can pile into City Hall to watch City Clerk Dana Wicher and a handful of poll workers open a locked metal ballot box and call out the names on each ballot. Like keeping score at a baseball game, they can even tally along.As the debate rages over whether Georgia’s new touchscreen-and-printed-ballot voting system is secure, voters in cities across the state will continue to fill out their ballots with pens this November. They won’t use any modern technology during their municipal elections. State law exempts cities from having to use the uniform voting system mandated for county, state and federal elections.“Folks like coming in and doing the paper ballots. It’s that old-town community feeling,” Wicher said. “There is some suspense. There’s probably more transparency with the paper system.”

Full Article: Georgia gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound.

Georgia: Cobb County trialing backup paper ballot voting system in Nov. 5 elections | Rosie Manins/Marietta Daily Journal

The majority of voters in Cobb County will be using hand-marked paper ballots to vote in the Nov. 5 municipal elections, the Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration says. The Cobb board is piloting the paper ballot method for the elections it is managing in November for the cities of Smyrna, Kennesaw, Powder Springs and Austell. Acworth is managing its own municipal elections this year, using its existing paper ballot system, and Marietta is not holding elections in November because none of its elected members are up for re-election. In the four Cobb cities where the board manages elections, the hand-marked paper ballot trial will be conducted on Nov. 5 and in any subsequent runoffs as an extra safeguard to address concerns and any surprise problems associated with the statewide switch to new electronic voting machines in 2020, the board says. This kind of paper ballot system has to be used by Georgia if its new electronic voting machine system is not fully implemented and operational by the March 24, 2020, presidential primaries, according to a federal judge’s order. The Cobb trial is aimed at testing and refining if necessary a voting method which could be used in case of a problem with the new voting machines, which are supposed to be in place across the state for the March elections.

Full Article: Cobb trialing backup voting system in Nov. 5 elections | News | mdjonline.com.

Georgia: Probe of missing Georgia votes finds “extreme” irregularities in black districts | Andrew O’Hehir/Salon

trove of documents turned over in a congressional probe of missing votes in Georgia’s lieutenant governor race — along with other voting issues — revealed serious irregularities. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating whether voting machine errors caused a large drop-off in votes in the lieutenant governor race between Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico and Republican Geoff Duncan, who won the election by about 123,000 votes. The probe is looking at why so many fewer votes were recorded in the race compared to other statewide races, as well as the voter suppression issues that plagued the 2018 state elections. There were 159,000 fewer votes cast in the lieutenant governor race than in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. While it is common for down-ballot races to see fewer votes, the lieutenant governor race had twice as much drop-off as other statewide races, even though it was the second race on the ballot, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. There were 80,000 fewer votes cast for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot races, which represents a 4 percent drop-off from the gubernatorial race, compared to a 2 percent drop-off among even less charismatic down-ballot races. For various reasons, this appears illogical. Historically, the lieutenant governor race has had a much lower drop-off rate than other statewide races in previous elections.

Full Article: Probe of missing Georgia votes finds "extreme" irregularities in black districts | Salon.com.

Georgia: Revealed: Georgia Republicans use power of state to suppress minority vote | Jordan Wilkie/The Guardian

Top Georgia Republicans continue to use the power of the state to investigate political rivals, executing a strategy that voting rights activists say is designed to intimidate voting rights organizations and activists serving minority communities. Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, and David Emadi, executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, are investigating and issuing subpoenas to political opponents, without publicly showing evidence there was wrongdoing by those parties. Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, pioneered the tactic as secretary of state, where he used his authority to investigate political opponents, liberal political groups and get out the vote (GOTV) organizers working in racial minority communities. To date, none of the investigations, subpoenas, arrests or prosecutions against political opponents and minority GOTV organizers have led to convictions, meaning that Kemp’s – and now Raffensperger and Emadi’s – political rivals remain innocent of charges brought against them. But voting rights activists say there is a trend in Georgia of Republicans using the power of an elected office to investigate political opponents as a voter intimidation tactic.

Full Article: Revealed: Georgia Republicans use power of state to suppress minority vote | US news | The Guardian.

Georgia: Mystery of missing votes deepens as Congress investigates Georgia | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

To find a clue about what might have gone wrong with Georgia’s election last fall, look no further than voting machine No. 3 at the Winterville Train Depot outside Athens. On machine No. 3, Republicans won every race. On each of the other six machines in that precinct, Democrats won every race.The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million, according to a statistician’s analysis in court documents. The strange results would disappear if votes for Democratic and Republican candidates were flipped on machine No. 3.It just so happens that this occurred in Republican Brian Kemp’s home precinct, where he initially had a problem voting when his yellow voter access card didn’t work because a poll worker forgot to activate it. At the time, Kemp was secretary of state — Georgia’s top election official — and running for governor in a tight contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.The suspicious results in Winterville are evidence in the ongoing mystery of whether errors with voting machines contributed to a stark drop-off in votes recorded in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Republican Geoff Duncan, who ended up winning, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.Even though it was the second race on the ballot, fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than for labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and every other statewide contest lower on the ballot. Roughly 80,000 fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot elections. The potential voting irregularities were included among 15,500 pages of documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have also been turned over to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is looking into Georgia’s elections. The documents, provided under the Georgia Open Records Act, offer details of alleged voting irregularities but no answers.

Full Article: Allegations of missing votes in Georgia turned over to Congress.

Georgia: Voters raise concerns about new voting system to state board | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters told Georgia’s election board Wednesday they’re deeply worried about the security and accuracy of the state’s new voting system and they urged the board to enact strong rules that ensure vote counts are correct.
The Secretary of State’s office announced it has started creating standards for recounts, audits and security of paper ballots that will be printed out by voting machines, which are scheduled to be used by Georgia voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.The 10 voters who spoke to the State Election Board, which is responsible for making election rules and investigating violations, said they distrust the $107 million voting system that Georgia bought from Denver-based Dominion this month. They doubted that computer-printed ballots will safeguard elections.“If a voter cannot recall every race and choice, she cannot identify whether the machine printout accurately reflects her intentions, or instead added, dropped or changed one of her choices,” said Rhonda Martin, a Fulton County voter. “No valid audit can be conducted on the basis of unverifiable source documents.”

Full Article: Voters ask Georgia election board to protect elections.

Georgia: Voters challenge legality of new election system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia voters who want hand-marked paper ballots are challenging the new election system state officials are rushing to implement in time for next year’s presidential primaries, saying the new touchscreen machines remain vulnerable and their results unverifiable, even though they produce paper records. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state’s purchase of a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems last month, with plans to replace the outdated election management system and paperless touchscreen voting machines in use since 2002. He then certified the new system on Aug. 9, and said it will be in place in time for the March 24 primaries. The voters’ petition, seeking a withdrawal of the certification and a re-examination of the Dominion system, was submitted Monday to Raffensperger’s office. It says the system doesn’t meet Georgia’s voting system certification requirements and doesn’t comply with the state election code. Georgia law allows voters to request that the secretary of state “reexamine any such device previously examined and approved by him or her” as long as at least 10 voters sign onto the request. The petition submitted Monday includes signatures of more than 1,450 registered voters from 100 counties, including some elected officials, and was filed by voting integrity advocates and the state Libertarian Party. Additionally, some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s outdated voting system filed an amended complaint on Friday asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to prohibit the state from using the new Dominion system, calling it “illegal and unreliable.”

Full Article: Georgia voters challenge legality of new election system.

Georgia: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters who want paper ballots filled out by hand asked a federal judge late Friday to prevent Georgia from using the $107 million voting system the state just bought. The request comes a day after the judge ruled that voters must use some type of paper ballots next year, but her decision didn’t address the legality of the state’s new voting system.Election officials plan to replace Georgia’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that combines touchscreens with paper ballots. Voters will pick their candidates on a 21.5-inch tablet that’s connected to a ballot printer starting with the March 24 presidential primary.The lawsuit, filed by voters and election integrity advocates, alleges the new voting machines will remain vulnerable to hacking, malware, bugs and misconfiguration.But state election officials have said that paper ballots will ensure the accuracy of results during recounts and audits.In addition, the lawsuit said the printed ballots aren’t truly verifiable. Although voters will be able to review ballots before casting them, the ballots embed voters’ choices in bar codes that are only readable by scanning machines.“No elector can visually review and confirm whether the bar code accurately conveys their intended selections,” according to the amended complaint.

Full Article: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped..

Georgia: Judge blasts Georgia officials’ handling of election system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia election officials have for years ignored, downplayed and failed to address serious problems with the state’s election management system and voting machines, a federal judge said in a scathing order this week. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg said those problems place a burden on citizens’ rights to cast a vote and have it reliably counted. She called Georgia’s voting system “antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack.” Despite those findings, Totenberg ruled Thursday that Georgia voters will use that same election system this fall because of concerns about the state’s capacity to make an interim switch while also implementing a new system. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s system had asked Totenberg to order an immediate switch to hand-marked paper ballots for special and municipal elections this fall. But she declined, citing worries about the state’s capacity to manage an interim switch while also implementing a new system that is supposed to be in place for the March 24 presidential primaries. ″(T)he totality of evidence in this case reveals that the Secretary of State’s efforts in monitoring the security of its voting systems have been lax at best — a clear indication that Georgia’s computerized election system is vulnerable in actual use,” Totenberg wrote in a 153-page ruling that devotes considerable space to chronicling those shortcomings.

Full Article: Judge blasts Georgia officials' handling of election system.

Georgia: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections | Stephen Fowler/NPR

A federal judge has denied a request to move all of this fall’s municipal elections in Georgia away from “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated technology” and toward hand-marked paper ballots that are optically scanned and counted. The order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg Thursday also requires the state to cease using its direct-recording electronic voting machines after 2019 and expresses doubts about the state’s ability to roll out its new ballot-marking device system in time for the March 24, 2020, presidential primary election. In the decision, Totenberg also directs the Georgia secretary of state’s office to develop a plan to “address errors and discrepancies in the voter registration database” and have paper copies of poll books at each voting precinct. The state must also create a contingency plan for the 2020 elections in case the new system is not completely rolled out. That includes designating several pilot jurisdictions that will use hand-marked paper ballots with optical scanners in their elections this fall. A group of election integrity advocates and Georgia voters sued the secretary of state’s office in 2017 alleging that the current DRE system is not secure and is vulnerable to hacking. Last year, Totenberg denied a similar motion for preliminary injunction that would have blocked the DREs from being used in the 2018 midterm election. The current motion sought to prevent the machines from being used this fall in several hundred local elections.

Full Article: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections : NPR.

Georgia: Judge denies paper ballots in Georgia this year but requires them in 2020 | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia voters can cast ballots on the state’s “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated” electronic voting machines one last time, deciding it would be too disruptive to switch to paper ballots before this fall’s elections. But starting with next year’s presidential primary election, paper ballots will be required, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Her order barred the state from using its current electronic voting machines after this year’s elections.Election officials are already planning to upgrade the state’s voting system by buying $107 million in new equipment that will use a combination of touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots to check the accuracy of election results.If the state’s new voting system isn’t completely rolled out to all 159 counties in time for the March 24 presidential primary, Totenberg ruled that voters must use paper ballots filled out by hand. “Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack,” Totenberg wrote. Totenberg wrote it would be “unwise” to immediately discard the state’s 17-year-old voting machines, which lack paper ballots that could be used to check the accuracy of election results. She wrote that it could be “a recipe for disaster” to force resistant election officials to switch to hand-marked paper ballots this year while they’re also transitioning to the state’s new voting system. Her 153-page ruling clears the way for 386 local elections to move forward as planned this fall, including votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.

Full Article: Judge rules against immediate switch to paper ballots in Georgia.

Georgia: Test results for Georgia new voting system released | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s new voting system passed equipment tests by a company hired to evaluate it for the state. The certification test results, released Monday, indicated that touchscreens, election computers, ballot scanners and other machinery can handle the stresses of an election.The tests identified one issue, when a ballot scanner suffered a “memory lockup” after reading 4,500 ballots. The problem was resolved by restarting the scanner.The testing by Pro V&V evaluated the voting equipment’s functionality. It didn’t grade the security of the $107 million voting system by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems. Starting with the presidential primary on March 24, all Georgia voters will use touchscreens attached to printers that produce paper ballots. Voters will then be able to review their ballots before inserting them into optical scanners for tabulation. Ballots will be stored for audits and recounts. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued his certification that the Dominion system is reliable and accurate on Friday after receiving the Pro V&V test results.

Full Article: Test results for Georgia new voting system released.

Georgia: New Georgia voting system certified by secretary of state | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified that Georgia’s new voting system is reliable and accurate Friday as state officials finalized a $107 million contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The certification of the new voting system, which combines touchscreens and paper ballots, was required before it could be used in Georgia elections. The state had announced last week that Dominion won the state’s voting contract, before certification testing had been completed.Raffensperger found that the Dominion system “has been thoroughly examined and tested,” according to his certification, filed in federal court Friday.His office didn’t release the results of certification testing Friday, which was conducted by a Huntsville, Ala.-based company called Pro V&V. But state rules give the secretary of state broad discretion to certify the voting system.

Full Article: New Georgia voting system certified by secretary of state.

Georgia: New voting machines certified by the state | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia’s secretary of state certified new touchscreen voting machines as election-safe in court documents Friday, bidding to put behind the acrimonious 2018 electoral season marred by reports of malfunctioning voting equipment, hourslong wait times and criticism that the state’s outdated machines were vulnerable to hacking. Republican Brad Raffensperger’s office formally awarded a $106 million contract to a Denver-based company, Dominion Voting Systems, for machines it said met state law for election security after neither losing vendor challenged Dominion’s winning bid. The developments came in court documents filed by attorneys defending state election officials against a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s current voting system and seeking statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.

Full Article: Georgia's new voting machines certified by the state.

Georgia: State faces tight timeline for replacing voting system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia elections officials have no time to spare as they hustle to replace thousands of outdated voting machines statewide while fending off lawsuits in the wake of a much criticized gubernatorial election. Even if the state manages to implement the $106 million purchase of new voting machines on schedule, some county officials worry the tight timeline could lead to another round of confusion as presidential politics drives high voter turnout. “There is concern from my board and myself that we won’t have enough time to get our training in for ourselves, our poll workers and the voters,” Elections Supervisor Jennifer Doran of Morgan County said in an interview Wednesday. Without proper training time, voters could face “confusion, anxiety” and longer waits as people learn to navigate the new system, Doran said. The voting system overhaul comes after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp — previously Georgia’s top election official — beat Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s mansion.

Full Article: Georgia faces tight timeline for replacing voting system.