Georgia

Articles about voting issues 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.

Georgia: Georgia awards voting contract before testing finished | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s new voting machines haven’t yet passed state tests of their accuracy, reliability and security, a required step before they can be used in elections. The testing of Dominion Voting System’s equipment is expected to be completed soon, said Georgia Secretary of State spokeswoman Tess Hammock on Monday. Dominion’s voting system, which combines touchscreen voting machines and paper ballots, already received federal certification in January.Until the state’s own tests are completed, it’s unknown whether there are any potential problems with Georgia’s new voting system that need to be corrected.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced last week that Dominion won a $107 million contract to provide voting equipment to the state’s 7 million registered voters. State rules require voting systems to complete testing and be certified by the secretary of state before they can be put into service.

Full Article: Georgia awards voting contract before testing finished..

Georgia: Threats to Georgia elections loom despite new paper ballot voting | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia was the first state in the nation to move to electronic voting machines 17 years ago, and it will be one of the last to adopt paper ballots that voters can check before they’re cast. The selection this week of a $107 million electronic voting system that combines familiar touchscreen machines with paper ballots was a big step for a state that continues to face criticism and legal challenges over its handling of the 2018 election. But critics say the system will still be vulnerable to hacking, and getting the machines ready in time for the statewide presidential primary in March won’t be easy.When the new system is installed, Georgia will be the first state in the nation to switch entirely to this kind of hybrid paper-and-tech way of conducting elections. Dominion Voting Systems will replace the state’s old Diebold electronic voting machines, which lack a paper trail for audits and recounts. The new touchscreens will be attached to printers that spit out ballots. Voters can then review their choices before inserting their paper ballots into scanning machines that will record their choices.

Full Article: Will new Georgia voting system prevent election vulnerabilities?.

Georgia: ‘The selling of an election’: dangerous level of private control revealed in 2018 Georgia midterms | Jordan Wilkie/The Guardian

Private companies had near-complete control over Georgia’s elections for the 2018 midterms and posed a serious security risk, according to testimony and documents revealed during a federal court case challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s elections. The most maligned components of Georgia’s election systems – voting machines and online voter registration – were almost entirely managed by private companies, prompting concerns from election security experts. Voting machine company Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), which has close connections with the Georgia secretary of state’s office and Governor Brian Kemp’s staff, had three staff in Georgia building electronic ballots out of their homes through the 2018 midterms. This introduced significant security concerns about both foreign actors attacking the election system with malware or about a “political insider” potentially introducing their own coding that could alter the results of an election without detection, according to the plaintiffs. “It’s a shock to everyone that the vendor is actually building ballots for state elections,” said David Cross, lead attorney for one of the two groups suing the state. “That should not be happening. That should be at the state level, because the state does not have any means of ensuring the necessary security protocols of the vendor.”

Full Article: 'The selling of an election': dangerous level of private control revealed in 2018 Georgia midterms | US news | The Guardian.

Georgia: Election officials deny evidence destruction | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Lawyers for Georgia election officials are rejecting as frivolous allegations that their clients destroyed evidence in a case challenging the state’s outdated election system. Election integrity advocates and individual Georgia voters sued election officials, saying the voting machines the state has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. In a court filing Thursday, they said the state began destroying evidence within days of the suit’s filing in 2017 and has continued to do so as the case moved forward. Responding in a court filing Tuesday, lawyers for state election officials called those allegations “a desperate attempt to distract the Court and the public from the complete lack of evidence of an actual compromise of Georgia’s election system.” The state’s election system came under national scrutiny last year during the closely watched gubernatorial election in which Republican Brian Kemp, who was the state’s top election official at the time, narrowly beat Democrat Stacey Abrams. State officials on Monday announced that they have selected a new voting system and expect it to be in place in time for the presidential primary election on March 24. But the state still plans to use the outdated machines for special and municipal elections in the interim.

Full Article: Georgia election officials deny evidence destruction - Fairfield Citizen.

Georgia: Georgia awards contract for new voting machines to Dominion | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Georgia awarded a $150 million contract to voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems to implement a “verified paper ballot system” in the state prior to the March 2020 presidential primaries, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office announced Monday. This will involve replacing current voting machines in Georgia with machines from Dominion that print a paper ballot after the voter has made their choices to further secure the vote against outside interference.  Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement that “elections security is my top priority,” adding that “we look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”

Full Article: Georgia awards contract for new voting machines | TheHill.

Georgia: A federal judge will decide on replacing Georgia voting machines | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As Georgia election officials selected a new voting system Monday, a federal judge is wrestling with whether to immediately require paper ballots before the state’s current electronic voting machines are set to be used for the last time in this fall’s elections. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg will decide whether Georgia’s existing touchscreen voting system is too insecure to continue using, a decision that could affect 310 elections planned in cities and counties this fall.Starting with next year’s presidential primary election, voters will use new voting equipment that combines touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that Dominion Voting won the state’s $107 million contract.Totenberg said in court Friday that Georgians could be “sitting ducks” because of hacking vulnerabilities in the state’s current electronic voting system, which lacks a paper ballot that could be used for audits and recounts. She didn’t immediately issue a ruling Friday after two days of testimony from voters, election officials, computer science experts and cybersecurity contractors.But Totenberg appeared reluctant to throw out the state’s 17-year-old voting machines this close to November’s elections.She said “it might be extra challenging” to change to hand-marked paper ballots, then go through another transition to the state’s new voting system before the presidential primary election March 24.

Full Article: A federal judge will decide on replacing Georgia voting machines..

Georgia: Election officials accused of destroying evidence in voting machine lawsuit | CNN

In a federal court filing, lawyers representing election integrity advocates accuse Georgia election officials of destroying evidence that was “ground zero for establishing hacking, unauthorized access, and potential of manipulation of election results.” The brief, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, argues that state officials “almost immediately” began destroying evidence after a 2017 lawsuit alleged Georgia’s voting machines were outdated and vulnerable to hacking. “The evidence strongly suggests that the State’s amateurish protection of critical election infrastructure placed Georgia’s election system at risk, and the State Defendants now appear to be desperate to cover-up the effects of their misfeasance — to the point of destroying evidence,” the lawsuit reads. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rebuffed the accusations in a statement — pointing to a US Senate Intelligence Committee report, which concluded that no machines were manipulated and no votes were changed.

Full Article: Georgia election officials accused of destroying evidence in voting machine lawsuit | WTVR.com.

Georgia: Judge could order Georgia to make interim voting system fix | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia allowed its election system to grow “way too old and archaic” and now has a deep hole to dig out of to ensure that the constitutional right to vote is protected, according to U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Now Totenberg is in the difficult position of having to decide whether the state, which plans to implement a new voting system statewide next year, must immediately abandon its outdated voting machines in favor of an interim solution for special and municipal elections to be held this fall. Election integrity advocates and individual voters sued Georgia election officials in 2017 alleging that the touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. They’ve asked Totenberg to order the state to immediately switch to hand-marked paper ballots. But lawyers for state election officials and for Fulton County, the state’s most populous county that includes most of Atlanta, argued that the state is in the process of implementing a new system, and it would be too costly, burdensome and chaotic to use an interim system for elections this fall and then switch to the new permanent system next year.

Full Article: Judge could order Georgia to make interim voting system fix | Federal News Network.

Georgia: Judge considers whether Georgia must stop using voting machines | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge who is deciding whether to shut down Georgia’s 27,000 electronic voting machines heard testimony Thursday that they flipped votes, lost ballots and posed election security risks. A packed courtroom listened as U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg considered a request that she immediately put the state’s 17-year-old voting machines out of service for this fall’s local elections, which include votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.State officials are already preparing to announce a replacement voting system that would go into use statewide in the March 24 presidential primary. But the concerned voters and election integrity advocates who sued say Georgia’s existing voting machines are fundamentally insecure and susceptible to hacking. They also plan to challenge the state’s incoming voting machines, which will still use touchscreens but with the added component of printed-out ballots that create a backup of electronic vote counts. The plaintiffs want voters to use paper ballots filled out with a pen.Totenberg didn’t signal how she would rule, but she said last fall that Georgia’s direct-recording electronic voting machines create a “concrete risk,” and election officials “had buried their heads in the sand” about vulnerabilities.

Full Article: Judge considers whether Georgia must stop using voting machines.

Georgia: Judge to hear arguments in Georgia voting machine case | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

A federal judge is considering whether to order Georgia to immediately stop using its outdated voting machines, even as state officials prepare to announce their replacement. A lawsuit filed by election integrity activists argues that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, vulnerable to hacking and can’t be audited. It seeks statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots. A law passed this year and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new system, which state officials said will be in place for the 2020 presidential election. But the plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year and which the plaintiffs fear would be used in 2020 if a new system isn’t implemented in time. Totenberg has scheduled a hearing Thursday on those requests. Georgia’s voting system drew national scrutiny last year during the closely watched governor’s race in which Kemp, a Republican who was the state’s top election official at the time, narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams.

Full Article: Judge to hear arguments in Georgia voting machine case - The Middletown Press.

Georgia: North Fulton County cities frustrated by high Fulton election costs | Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A dispute between Fulton County and its cities about the cost to run elections has frustrated leaders and led the county to cut back on early voting this fall. Officials in several north Fulton cities said they were shocked by what they called excessive costs to run city elections and demanded the county look for ways to save money.That led to a decision by the county to reduce the number of polling places, hours and days for early voting.“This makes me even angrier,” Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said upon learning that the East Roswell library was one of the proposed polling locations that wouldn’t open for early voting in the fall. “I am so frustrated with this and I am so frustrated with Fulton County.”The county had originally proposed opening 16 early voting locations, but reduced the number to nine after Henry and others said they thought the costs were too high. Roswell elections were slated to cost nearly $535,000, more than $200,000 more than the cost had been in 2017.The city’s elections are now estimated to cost about $375,000, a figure that is still more than $60,000 higher that what Roswell budgeted. “Fulton doesn’t really have competition,” Henry said. “They have us over a barrel on elections.”While some Fulton County cities perform their own elections and one, Mountain Park, contracts with Cherokee County, the other cities are required to contract with Fulton if they don’t want to go it alone, Henry said. She’s asked Sen. John Albers, R-Alpharetta, to put forth legislation that would allow cities to contract with neighboring counties to perform elections. Albers confirmed that he plans to file that legislation, saying he supports “giving our cities options for running elections to reduce the cost and improve the experience.”

Full Article: North Fulton cities frustrated by high Fulton election costs.

Georgia: Unclassified DHS memo outlined threats to Georgia elections | Mark Niesse/Atlanta Journal Constitution

The potential for tampering in Georgia’s elections last fall prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to warn election officials to be on guard against foreign interference. A recently released DHS memo, titled “A Georgia Perspective on Threats to the 2018 U.S. Elections,” listed concerns about hacking, misinformation spread through social media and disruptions to election infrastructure.The federal advice came as attorneys for state election officials argued in court documents that fears of hacking and vote miscounting were little more than “a theoretical possibility.”Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said Monday that cybersecurity has been an ongoing priority since well before the 2018 elections.“This memo is standard information sharing and shows what all levels of government are doing to protect our elections,” said spokeswoman Tess Hammock. “DHS prepared a similar memo for every state. There is no evidence of any successful attempts to interfere in Georgia’s elections.”The unclassified DHS document became public Wednesday when it was included as an exhibit in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to prevent the continued use of electronic voting machines. “Foreign governments may engage in cyber operations targeting the election infrastructure and political organization in Georgia and engage in influence operations that aim to interfere with the 2018 U.S. elections,” according to the Oct. 2, 2018, document prepared by the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis Field Operations Division for the Southeast Region. The two-page memo didn’t specify who might have attempted to tamper with Georgia’s elections, but it said their goals could have been “to disrupt political processes, sway public opinion, or to undermine certain political organizations.”

Full Article: Unclassified DHS memo outlined threats to Georgia elections.

Georgia: Judge: Georgia must allow inspection of election databases | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

A federal judge has ordered Georgia election officials to allow computer experts and lawyers to review the databases used to create ballots and count votes. The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit that challenges Georgia’s election system and seeks statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg gave the state until Friday to turn over electronic copies of the databases to the plaintiffs’ lawyers and computer experts. The lawsuit was filed by a group of voters and the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity advocacy organization. It argues that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, vulnerable to hacking and unable to be audited. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have argued that they need to inspect the databases at issue because they provide the information that is loaded onto voting machines and then record the cast vote records.

Full Article: Judge: Georgia must allow inspection of election databases - Fairfield Citizen.

Georgia: Judge allows outside inspection of Georgia voting system | Mark Niesse/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The insides of Georgia’s voting system will be cracked open for inspection as part of a lawsuit alleging that the state’s elections are vulnerable to inaccuracies, malfunctions and hacking. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on Tuesday ordered election officials to allow computer experts to review databases used to configure ballots and tabulate votes.The ruling comes in a lawsuit by election integrity advocates who doubt the accuracy of Georgia’s electronic voting machines and are asking Totenberg to require that elections be conducted on paper ballots filled out with a pen.The review of election management databases is needed to understand what caused problems during November’s heated race for governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, said Bruce Brown, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs.Voters reported that voting machines failed to record their choices, flipped their votes from one candidate to another and produced questionable results.“We can see the system malfunctioning, and everybody knows it is intrinsically vulnerable,” said Brown, who represents the Coalition for Good Governance, a Colorado-based organization focused on election accountability. “We’re trying to learn more about the exact causes of the particular problems we’re seeing in Georgia.”Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s attorneys objected to allowing a review of election databases, which have a variety of information including candidate names, party affiliations, ballot layouts and vote counts for each precinct. The databases don’t contain confidential information, Totenberg wrote.

Full Article: Judge allows outside inspection of Georgia voting system.

Georgia: Election law resolves lawsuits over absentee ballots | Mark Niesse/Atlanta Journal Constitution

The battle over thousands of rejected absentee ballots appears to have come to an end. Absentee ballots can no longer be thrown out in Georgia because of a signature mismatch or a missing birth year and address, according to a new state law that recently resolved two federal lawsuits.County election officials discarded nearly 7,000 absentee ballots in the November election, often for minor transgressions such as marking the outside of the absentee ballot envelope incorrectly.Judges issued orders at the time preventing election officials from discarding absentee and provisional ballots. Then the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 316 in March, a broad elections bill that replaces the state’s voting machines and makes many other changes to elections.That legislation led to the lawsuits’ dismissal.

Full Article: Georgia election law resolves lawsuits over absentee ballots..

Georgia: In Georgia, New Election Technology and Old Security Concerns | Timothy Pratt/Undark

Earlier this year, Georgia’s Secure, Accessible, and Fair Elections Commission held a public meeting at the state capitol to answer a pressing question: What should Georgia do to replace its aging, touchscreen voting machines, as well as other parts of its election system? In the preceding years, security vulnerabilities in the state’s election system had been repeatedly exposed: by Russian operatives, friendly hackers, and even a Georgia voter who, just days ahead of the 2018 midterms, revealed that anyone could go online and gain access to the state’s voter registration database. Computer scientists and elections experts from around the country had weighed in during the seven months of the commission’s deliberations on the issue. They submitted letters and provided testimony, sharing the latest research and clarifying technical concepts tied to holding safe, reliable elections. Their contributions were underscored by commission member Wenke Lee, co-director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy, and the group’s only computer scientist. Despite this, the commission ultimately did not recommend measures backed by Lee and his colleaguesat places like Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Google — including the recommendation that the state return to a system of paper ballots filled out by hand, combined with what scientists call risk-limiting audits. Instead, the commission recommended buying a system that included another, more expensivetouchscreen voting machine that prints a paper ballot. Months later, Lee was at a loss to explain: “I don’t understand why they still don’t understand,” he said.

Full Article: In Georgia, New Election Technology and Old Security Concerns.