Georgia

Articles about voting issues in Georgia.

Georgia: Election Security Scandals in Georgia Heighten 2020 Concerns | Lucas Ropek/Government Technology

In 2016, a vulnerability was discovered in Georgia’s election system that exposed the information of some 6.7 million voters and would’ve given a hacker the ability to manipulate or delete any information within voting machines across the state, according to people familiar with the discovery. While the state has since taken steps to patch the holes, activists are still concerned that the state’s subpar election security practices will endanger the results of the 2020 presidential race. Marilyn Marks, executive director of the advocacy group Coalition for Good Governance, said that while Georgia has corrected some mistakes, it still hasn’t addressed its fundamental weaknesses. The group, which is currently engaged in one of several election-related lawsuits against the state, released a statement this week alleging that the state’s presidential primary was “at risk of failure.” With a highly contentious election looming and heightened concerns about foreign interference, the question remains: has Georgia done what it takes to protect voters and the democratic process?  

Full Article: Election Security Scandals in Georgia Heighten 2020 Concerns.

Georgia: The power to vote – literally – carries a cost in Georgia | Jessica Waters/Connect

For Stephens County, that cost just increased by $30,500, as county commissioners, at the Feb. 11 regular meeting, unanimously approved the expenditure in order to rewire the Stephens County Senior Center – the county’s sole polling location – so that it is able to handle the electrical draw of the state-mandated new voting machinery. “We have to rewire the Senior Center to handle the amps needed by the new voting equipment. This is a problem all over the State of Georgia, I know of another county that had to spend $68,000 on rewiring. Everyone is having the same problem, and we’ve been jumping through hoops to resolve it,” County Administrator Phyllis Ayers told ConnectLocal.News Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 11. A part of the reason the new voting system has a higher electrical draw than the old system is that there are now several components, instead of the single-machine system previously in use. “You’ve got more machines that need to be plugged in. You’ve got your voting machines, the printers, the scanners, and you’ve got the cyber-power battery packs,” Ayers said. “If my Buildings and Grounds Director had not been here, unloading the equipment, and could see what the amps were – and he was calculating it up in his head as he was going by and he come down here and said ‘where’s the power coming from?’” The $30,500 bid to complete the rewiring of the Senior Center, submitted by local electrical contractor Henry Hayes, will be paid out of contingency funds, along with funding for pouring a concrete pad to hold the generator used to power the equipment and a few other minor related expenditures. “There is a grant where the state will consider reimbursing you back those expenses,” she said. “So we’re trying to keep up with that, and will apply for the grant.”

Full Article: The power to vote – literally – carries a cost

Georgia: State officials partner with Georgia Tech for voting security | Albany Herald

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is launching a partnership with Georgia Tech, the Georgia Institute of Technology, to combat cyber threats to Georgia’s election system. This new effort will provide Georgia with the cyber expertise necessary to stay ahead of the continuously evolving threats to our voting infrastructure. “I am thankful to be working with a premier academic institution like Georgia Tech, whose cybersecurity program is ranked second in the nation,” said Raffensperger. “Together, we will be able to combat the growing cyber threats to our voting system and Secure the Vote in Georgia.” Georgia Tech officials said such security is a focus of the university.

Full Article: State officials partner with Georgia Tech for voting security | News | albanyherald.com.

Georgia: Map shows spread of touchscreen voting across Georgia and nation | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The kind of voting system rolling out in Georgia is gaining ground across the country but remains much less common than paper ballots filled out by hand, according to a new national map of voting equipment. Georgia is one of three states that will use touchscreens and ballot printers for all in-person voters this year, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election accuracy advocacy organization. Delaware and South Carolina will also use this kind of voting system statewide. Many states use similar equipment but on a smaller scale to accommodate voters with disabilities. The voting computers, called ballot-marking devices, are available in parts or all of 44 states, often alongside hand-marked paper ballots. About 18% of voters nationwide, more than 37 million, will use ballot-marking devices as their primary voting method this year, according to figures provided by Warren Stewart, a data specialist for Verified Voting who worked on the map. That figure includes 7 million registered voters in Georgia.

Full Article: Map shows spread of touchscreen voting across Georgia and nation.

Georgia: Some issues reported on voting machines in election | Russ Bynum/Associated Press

Georgia has used a special state House election to work out some kinks with the state’s new voting machines. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger traveled to the southwest Georgia district, which includes parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties to observe as about 5,000 votes were tallied in Tuesday’s election. The Republican told news outlets that the state’s new ballot markers and counters performed well, saying voters experienced “just two minor issues.” But state Democrats and poll watchers said they observed more problems, including failures of ballot markers, ballot printers, scanners and a lack of voter privacy. The big test looming for the new equipment is the March 24 presidential primary. The $104 million system includes an electronic poll book to check voters in, a touchscreen computer to make selections, a printer that creates a paper ballot with a text summary of choices and a scanner that reads a code on each printout to tabulate the votes. The printed ballots are then stored inside each machine.

Full Article: Some issues reported on Georgia voting machines in election.

Georgia: Hand recounts of Georgia’s paper ballots barred by election proposal | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has repeatedly said paper ballots will give Georgia voters “a physical recount.” But under a proposed elections rule, the only physical part of the recount would occur when poll workers feed ballots into the machines. The rule calls for recounts to be conducted by ballot scanning machines that read votes encoded in bar codes. Election officials won’t review the ballot text to check the accuracy of vote totals until the state develops auditing rules. Election integrity organizations say recounts of paper ballots should be done by hand to help ensure that the printed text matches votes tabulated from the bar code. “You have to have a manual process to confirm a computerized process,” said Marian K. Schneider, the president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan organization that promotes accurate and verifiable elections. “The best way is to do a hand recount that can look at the human-readable text on the paper output.”

Full Article: Georgia election proposal requires machine-based recounts.

Georgia: Fearing long lines, Georgia election officials reject voting proposal | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s election board rejected a proposal Wednesday that could have resulted in long lines of voters, instead introducing a plan to require more voting machines during this year’s high-turnout presidential election. Still, the State Election Board’s proposed rules won’t provide as many voting machines as mandated by a state law passed last year, which called for one voting booth for every 250 voters in each precinct. Election officials said they will likely try to change that law during this year’s legislative session. With a new voting system being rolled out during the March 24 presidential primary, the State Election Board approved rules for the state’s voting machines and proposed several other changes dealing with absentee ballot rejections, provisional ballots, paper ballot backups and accessibility options for people with disabilities. The board’s most consequential decision determined how many voting machines are available in each precinct on Election Day.

Full Article: Georgia election officials require more voting machines.

Georgia: A Georgia election server was vulnerable to Shellshock and may have been hacked | Dan Goodin/Ars Technica

Forensic evidence shows signs that a Georgia election server may have been hacked ahead of the 2016 and 2018 elections by someone who exploited Shellshock, a critical flaw that gives attackers full control over vulnerable systems, a computer security expert said in a court filing on Thursday. Shellshock came to light in September 2014 and was immediately identified as one of the most severe vulnerabilities to be disclosed in years. The reasons: it (a) was easy to exploit, (b) gave attackers the ability to remotely run commands and code of their choice, and (c) opened most Linux and Unix systems to attack. As a result, the flaw received widespread news coverage for months. Despite the severity of the vulnerability, it remained unpatched for three months on a server operated by the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, the group that was responsible for programming Georgia election machines. The flaw wasn’t fixed until December 2, 2014, when an account with the username shellshock patched the critical vulnerability, the expert’s analysis of a forensic image shows. The shellshock account had been created only 19 minutes earlier. Before patching the vulnerability, the shellshock user deleted a file titled shellsh0ck. A little more than a half hour after patching, the shellshock user was disabled.

Full Article: A Georgia election server was vulnerable to Shellshock and may have been hacked | Ars Technica.

Georgia: Expert: Georgia election server showed signs of tampering | Frank Bajak/Associated Press

A computer security expert says he found that a forensic image of the election server central to a legal battle over the integrity of Georgia elections showed signs that the original server was hacked. The server was left exposed to the open internet for at least six months, a problem the same expert discovered in August 2016. It was subsequently wiped clean in mid-2017 with no notice, just days after election integrity activists filed a lawsuit seeking an overhaul of what they called the state’s unreliable and negligently run election system. In late December 2019, the plaintiffs were finally able to obtain a copy of the server’s contents that the FBI made in March 2017 and retained — after the state allegedly dragged its feet in securing the image. State officials have said they’ve seen no evidence that any election-related data was compromised. But they also long refused to submit the server image for an independent examination. Logan Lamb, a security expert for the plaintiffs, said in an affidavit filed in Atlanta federal court on Thursday that he found evidence suggesting the server was compromised in December 2014. Lamb said the evidence suggests an attacker exploited a bug that provided full control of the server. Lamb also said he determined that computer logs — which would have been critical to understanding what might have been altered on or stolen from the server — only go back to Nov. 10, 2016 — two days after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. Two years later, Brian Kemp won the Georgia governor’s race by a narrow margin over Democrat Stacey Abrams.

Full Article: Expert: Georgia election server showed signs of tampering - The Washington Post.

Georgia: State’s Election Systems Feared at Risk in 2020 Vote | Kartikay Mehrotra/Bloomberg

The state of Georgia’s new voting system may be at risk of a cyber-attack leading up to the 2020 election because the state failed to eradicate malware that exposed sensitive data six years ago, a cybersecurity expert said as part of a lawsuit against the state. A server central to Georgia’s election system was infiltrated and taken over by a hacker in 2014, according to Logan Lamb, a cybersecurity expert who is part of a lawsuit between voting integrity advocates and the state over the election system. The server was wiped and taken offline in 2017, but the contract between Georgia and its new vendor, Dominion Voting Systems, indicates old data was “imported” into the new system. That old data could carry remnants of the “Shellshock” malware used to attack the state in 2014, according to filings in the lawsuit. Shellshock allowed unauthorized users to access sensitive layers of a network. “Because this compromised server is inextricably connected to Georgia’s voting systems past and present, it is unreasonable to assume that the new election system … is not already potentially compromised,” according to documents filed Thursday by the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance. The group has filed its suit to block the state from destroying their old voting system records.

Full Article: State of Georgia’s Election Systems Feared at Risk in 2020 Vote - Bloomberg.

Georgia: Few voters check printed ballots like those in Georgia, study shows | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Most voters fail to verify the accuracy of paper ballots printed by touchscreens like those being rolled out in Georgia this year, according to a new study. Unless voters review their choices, potential hacking of election results could go undetected, said the University of Michigan study published Wednesday. Just 7% of voters detected errors on computer-printed paper ballots, the study found. The number of voters who reported ballot errors increased to 16% when they were warned by poll workers that the paper ballot was the official record of their vote. A pending Georgia elections rule requires poll workers to give verbal instructions to voters to review their ballots before scanning them. Signs will also be posted in voting locations reminding voters to verify their ballot choices. The new voting system with touchscreens and printed ballots is scheduled to be used by all Georgia voters for the March 24 presidential primary. The system will replace the state’s 18-year-old electronic voting machines, which didn’t produce paper ballots.

Full Article: Study: Voters fail to detect errors on ballots used in Georgia.

Georgia: Augusta University and Cyber Center partner with State on election security | Tom Corwin/The Augusta Chronicle

Georgia election officials are turning to Augusta experts for help in ensuring election integrity this year. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that his office will partner with the Georgia Cyber Center and Augusta University School of Computer and Cyber Sciences to ensure Georgia’s new electronic voting systems are secure. “This is exciting,” said Dr. Alex Schwarzmann, dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences. “Georgia is moving absolutely in the right direction.” Before coming to Augusta, Schwarzmann was part of a similar partnership in Connecticut between the secretary of state and the University of Connecticut. He said there were not more than 20 states that have created such a proactive arrangement with an independent technology agency to ensure electronic election systems stay secure.

Full Article: Georgia, AU and Cyber Center partner on election security - News - The Augusta Chronicle - Augusta, GA.

Georgia: Secretary of State Issues Warning for Cyberattacks | The Albany Herald

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that he is instructing elections officials for the state and individual counties to be on heightened diligence against possible cybersecurity attacks following a warning issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Nothing is more important than the security and integrity of elections,” Raffensperger said. “The state’s election system uses the most advanced protections against cyberattacks and draws on the advice and best practices of national experts. While no specific threat has been identified, this latest warning serves as a reminder that we can never lower our guard.” The Multi State Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the Department of Homeland Security have notified the Georgia office of the Secretary of State “that Iran is highly likely to retaliate” against the United States and its interests following the airstrikes early Friday, killing a prominent Iranian military official. “We are continually improving and enhancing our cyber security,” responded Raffensperger. “Our goal is both prevention and resiliency in our infrastructure and systems.”

Full Article: Georgia Secretary of State Issues Warning for Cyberattacks.

Georgia: State confident in timeline for delivery of new voting equipment | Tyler Estep/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cellophane-wrapped pallet by cellophane-wrapped pallet, workers rolled some 2,800 new voting machines into the DeKalb County elections warehouse on Monday. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger described it as the largest delivery to-date for the new voting system — and said he’s confident every community in Georgia will be fully equipped and fully prepared for March’s presidential primary. “We’ll have every county at 100 percent capacity before the end of the first week in February,” Raffensperger said. As recently as last month, officials had put the target date at the end of January. The new system, run on equipment provided by Dominion Voting Systems through a $107 million state contract awarded this summer, will replace Georgia’s 18-year-old electronic machines with a combination of touchscreens, printed ballots and scanners. Counties across the state must make the switch for the March 24 primary, which involves three weeks of early voting.

Full Article: Georgia official: Voting machines will arrive in plenty of time.

Georgia: State Ramps Up New Voting Machine Delivery As Election Deadline Looms | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Standing at the edge of a DeKalb County loading dock, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined several reporters and elections staff as a nondescript white truck slowly backed up to unload its cargo. The truck was loaded with battery backups that will help power 2,839 ballot-marking devices used by DeKalb voters in future elections. It was the first of many shipments arriving that day. While the holiday season has made coordinating deliveries to local officials tricky, Raffensperger said that more than 25,000 of the 33,100 BMDs are tested and in the state’s control and 32 of Georgia’s 159 counties have received nearly all of their new voting machines and accessories. Cobb County (2,039 machines) is waiting on final pieces of equipment, DeKalb County (2,839) is currently being delivered and in the next few weeks Fulton (3,058) and Gwinnett counties (2,257) will receive most of their equipment. “So, that represents 34% of all the voting equipment for the entire state of Georgia,” Raffensperger said.

Full Article: Georgia Ramps Up New Voting Machine Delivery As Election Deadline Looms | Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Georgia: Experts warn Georgia’s new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions | Rachel Frazin/The Hill

Experts are reportedly warning that Georgia’s new electronic voting machines are at risk of intrusions and manlfunctions, as the state grapples with election security issues. Georgia Institute of Technology computing professor Richard DeMillo told the The Washington Post that bystanders could see the machines’ screens during his visit to polling places north of Atlanta in November. Some counties also experienced programming issues that delayed voter check-ins while others noted machine shutdowns, the Post reported Monday. DeMillo told the newspaper that state officials “seem to be structurally unable to confront the fact that the voting system in Georgia is at risk.”

Full Article: Experts warn Georgia's new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions | TheHill.

Georgia: As Georgia rolls out new voting machines for 2020, worries about election security persist | Neena Satija, Amy Gardner and Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Last month, voters in six Georgia counties cast ballots for local elections using new touch-screen voting machines that officials have said will resolve long-standing questions about the security of the state’s election system. Richard DeMillo, a professor of computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said he was worried as he visited polling places in a county north of Atlanta. DeMillo said bystanders could easily see the screens from 30 feet away, presenting serious privacy concerns. In some counties, elections officials reported that programming problems led to delays in checking in voters, and in some precincts, the machines unexpectedly shut down and rebooted. Georgia is preparing to roll out 30,000 of the machines in every polling place for its presidential primary in March, replacing a paperless electronic voting system that a federal judge declared insecure and unreliable. But election security experts said the state’s newest voting machines also remain vulnerable to potential intrusions or malfunctions — and some view the paper records they produce as insufficient if a verified audit of the vote is needed.

Full Article: As Georgia rolls out new voting machines for 2020, worries about election security persist - The Washington Post.

Georgia: State Elections Board seeks public comment on paper ballot rules | Albany Herald

The State Elections Board voted Tuesday to post for public comment updated rules for county officials to run elections on Georgia’s new paper ballot system, another key step in the implementation of the largest voting system rollout in U.S. history. An important aspect of the rules are procedures for maintaining the integrity of the touchscreen ballot-marking devises, known as BMDs. The rules require county poll managers to test each BMD before every election to ensure that voters’ selections will be accurately printed on the ballots. “These rules, and the verification procedures they contemplate, are critical in assuring voters that their choices will be recorded faithfully and counted accurately,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, chairman of the five-member State Elections Board, said in a news release. The proposed rules reflect best practices recommended by election-security experts and House Bill 316 passed earlier this year by the Georgia General Assembly. They also incorporate comments from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Brennan Center for Justice, and a working group of local election officials. The proposed rules are posted at here.

Full Article: Georgia State Elections Board seeks public comment on paper ballot rules | News | albanyherald.com.

Georgia: State Buying More New Voting Machines For Counties Ahead Of 2020 Rollout | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office. Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary. Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer and project manager with the secretary of state’s office, said that each county will receive either the number of machines requested in the RFP or one machine for every 225 active registered voters in the county, whichever is larger. That ranges from 10 machines sent to Taliaferro, Quitman and Webster counties to more than 3,300 in Fulton. No county will have fewer BMDs than they had direct-recording electronic machines in the 2018 election. Sterling said the purchase of 3,000 additional machines as well as high-capacity scanners for every county and mobile ballot printers are the result of cost savings and negotiations with Dominion over the past few months.

SPREADSHEET: Voting Machines By County

Full Article: Georgia Buying More New Voting Machines For Counties Ahead Of 2020 Rollout | Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Georgia: Election Day absentee ballots rejected as Georgia creates voting rules | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The State Election Board voted down a citizen petition Tuesday that would have allowed voters to deliver their absentee ballots to the polls on Election Day, but the board moved forward with several other rules for running elections with printed-out paper ballots. One of the new rules calls for mobile ballot printers that can print absentee, provisional and back-up paper ballots on demand in each of Georgia’s 159 counties. The mobile ballot printers will prevent local election officials from running out of ballots. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the chairman of the State Election Board, said the rules will ensure that votes are counted when the state’s new $104 million voting system is rolled out to all voters during the March 24 presidential primary. The system will use touchscreens that are connected to printers that create paper ballots. The State Election Board voted 4-0 to open a 30-day public comment period on the rules, which require voting equipment testing, voter registration application forms, ballot security, provisional ballot access and notification of voters about rejected absentee ballots within three days.

Full Article: Election Day absentee ballots rejected as Georgia creates voting rules.