Georgia

Articles about voting issues in Georgia.

Georgia: Panel backs new voting machines over hand-marked paper ballots | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A panel formed by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp voted Thursday to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a computerized system that prints paper ballots, despite opposition from a crowd of voters who said paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure and less expensive. The endorsement of ballot printers over hand-marked paper ballots will carry weight with the Georgia General Assembly when it considers buying a new statewide voting system during this year’s legislative session, which begins Monday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission voted 13-3 to recommend a voting system with touchscreens and printers, called ballot-marking devices, that would cost taxpayers well over $100 million. A system using paper ballots bubbled in with a pen would cost around $30 million. The vote came the same week Kemp announced he was hiring former state Rep. Chuck Harper, a lobbyist for the state’s current election vendor, Election Systems & Software, as his deputy chief of staff. The company sells the same kind of voting system that the commission recommended. … Except for election officials and lobbyists, every voter who made public comments Thursday supported hand-marked paper ballots. County election supervisors backed ballot-marking devices, saying they’re similar to the touchscreens that voters are accustomed to.

Full Article: Commission backs new voting system to replace Georgia's machines.

Georgia: Commission recommends machine-marked ballots for Georgia | Associated Press

After Georgia’s 2018 elections focused stinging criticism on the state’s outdated election system, a study commission voted Thursday to recommend the use of machines that record votes and print a record. Members of the panel tasked with considering a potential replacement chose that option over hand-marked paper ballots favored by cybersecurity experts. The Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections, or SAFE, Commission voted 13-3 for a draft of a report to be sent to lawmakers, who are expected to decide on criteria for a new system during the legislative session that begins Monday. The commission includes lawmakers, political party representatives, voters and election officials. … Verified Voting, a nonprofit group that advocates ensuring the accuracy of elections, last week urged the commission to recommend hand-marked paper ballots. “A paper ballot that is indelibly marked by hand and physically secured from the moment of casting is the most reliable record of voter intent,” president Marian Schneider wrote in a Jan. 4 letter. “A hand-marked paper ballot is the only kind of record not vulnerable to software errors, configuration errors, or hacking.”

Full Article: Commission recommends machine-marked ballots for Georgia - ABC News.

Georgia: Hearing set in challenge to lieutenant governor’s election | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Cobb County judge will hold a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit challenging the election of Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan. The case alleges that a drop-off in votes for lieutenant governor indicates the election between Duncan, a Republican, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico was flawed and should be redone. Duncan won by more than 123,000 votes. While it’s not unusual for voters to skip down-ballot races, the lawsuit raises suspicions about potential irregularities in the lieutenant governor’s election. The suit, filed Nov. 23 by an election integrity advocacy group and three voters, blames the state’s 16-year-old direct-recording electronic voting system. About 80,000 fewer votes were counted in the lieutenant governor’s race than the average of ballots recorded in 10 statewide contests in the Nov. 6 election.

Full Article: Hearing set in challenge to Georgia lieutenant gov's election.

Georgia: SAFE Commission recommends new voting machines, meeting to wrap up Thursday | Rome News Tribune

A state committee charged with recommending changes to Georgia’s voting machines is slated to hold its final meeting Thursday in Atlanta. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections Commission plans to take a final round of public comment before discussing recommendations that have come out of three meetings with voting rights advocates, cybersecurity experts, elections officials and vendors. Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Rome, said he expects action during the 2019 Georgia General Assembly session that starts Monday. Lumsden said he’s looked at the voting machine options being proposed, but he’s waiting for committee hearings in the Legislature to decide where he stands.

Full Article: SAFE Commission recommends new voting machines, meeting to wrap up Thursday | Local News | northwestgeorgianews.com.

Georgia: Lawmakers prepare for fight over switch to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Battles over election integrity that helped define Georgia’s race for governor will play out at the Capitol this year, when state legislators plan to replace the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines and review voting access laws. The multimillion-dollar purchase of a more secure statewide voting system is a priority for this year’s legislative session, which starts Monday. Legislators generally agree that the state should start using paper ballots to replace the all-digital touchscreen system in place since 2002, but they strongly differ over what kind of paper-based system to buy. Intense debates over voter disenfranchisement are also certain to arise. A bill has already been filed to curb mass voter registration cancellations, and other measures could address ballot cancellations, voting hours, early voting times, precinct closures and district boundaries.

Full Article: Elections and paper voting debated by Georgia legislators.

Georgia: Will Georgia Double Down on Non-Transparent, Vulnerable Election Machines? | WhoWhatWhy

How could Georgia make its current voting system worse? Officials seem to have found a way. Even before the 2018 midterm election, the Peach State had achieved notoriety based on, among other things, its use of hackable paperless voting machines. Paperless voting machines are considered an especially attractive target for hackers and corrupt insiders because they provide no independent paper record of voter intent that can be used to determine whether electronic tallies are legitimate. Thus, Georgia is one of just a handful of states that still exclusively use such paperless machines. The good news is that Georgia, which was the first state in the country to deploy paperless machines statewide, has finally decided to replace these machines. But Georgia’s newly elected Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger (R), hopes to replace them not with hand-marked paper ballots and scanners (as virtually all independent cybersecurity election experts recommend), but rather with touchscreen ballot-marking devices, a prime example of which is the ExpressVote system from Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S). The ExpressVote is the specific system that Governor-elect Brian Kemp (R) began promoting last year. ES&S is Georgia’s current vendor.

Full Article: Will Georgia Double Down on Non-Transparent, Vulnerable Election Machines? - WhoWhatWhy.

Georgia: Changes may be ahead for criticized Georgia election system | Associated Press

Georgia’s outdated election system has drawn criticism from cybersecurity experts and voting integrity advocates, and now a commission tasked with examining potential replacements is preparing to make recommendations to lawmakers. The paperless system was closely scrutinized during last year’s nationally watched gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who was Georgia’s secretary of state and chief elections official. Abrams and her allies accused Kemp of suppressing minority votes and mismanaging the election, including by neglecting elections infrastructure. Kemp, now governor-elect, has vehemently denied those allegations.

Full Article: Changes may be ahead for criticized Georgia election system.

Georgia: State prepares to move from electronic to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia’s outdated and unverifiable electronic voting machines will likely be replaced next year with paper ballots. But lawmakers and voters are debating what kind of paper-based voting system will deliver the most accurate and trustworthy results. Once considered cutting-edge, the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines have come under fire because there’s no way to ensure they’re producing accurate outcomes. They lack an independent paper record that could check results stored on computers. The machines, put into service after contentious recounts in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, pose a “concrete risk” to the state’s elections, a federal judge ruled in September. Election results could be hacked if someone gained access to voting machines or government election computers, according to testimony from computing experts. Some voters reported that the machines flipped their votes from one candidate to another in November’s election for governor. And there were low vote totals in the lieutenant governor’s race, which a lawsuit blames on the voting machines.

Full Article: Georgia considers paper ballots to replace electronic voting..

Georgia: Brian Kemp had “no evidence” when he falsely accused Democrats of hacking voter database | Salon

Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican governor-elect, pushed a baseless claim alleging that Democrats hacked the state’s voter database days before the election he won by fewer than 60,000 votes, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has discovered. Three days before the November election, then-Secretary of State Kemp was tied with Democrat Stacey Abrams in the polls amid criticism that he had improperly purged hundreds of thousands of voters from the state’s rolls. With just 72 hours before the vote, it was discovered that Kemp’s office had left the state’s voter registration system exposed on the internet. Kemp responded by accusing the Georgia Democratic Party of trying to hack into the voter database to try to affect the election. The Journal-Constitution has now discovered, weeks after Kemp’s narrow electoral victory, that there was “no evidence” backing any of Kemp’s allegations at the time and “none has emerged in the six weeks since.” It “appears unlikely that any crime occurred,” the newspaper concluded.

Full Article: Georgia's Brian Kemp had "no evidence" when he falsely accused Dems of hacking voter database | Salon.com.

Georgia: The black-and-white cyber security debate behind that November surprise | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Like any subset of society, the world of technology has its own culture, its own precepts of what separates good behavior from bad. Some people find certain aspects of that culture baffling – specifically, the topic of cyber security. And many of those people can be found in and around the state Capitol. Over the weekend, our AJC colleague Alan Judd posted a catch-up piece on one of Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s last actions in that office – his Nov. 3 decision to announce that he had placed the Democratic Party of Georgia under investigation for an alleged attempt to hack the state’s voter registration database. Never mind that Kemp was the GOP nominee for governor, and Election Day was 72 hours away. 

Full Article: The Jolt: The black-and-white cyber security debate behind that November....

Georgia: State has not followed good election security practices, cyber expert says | StateScoop

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s Nov. 3 accusation that Democrats attempted to hack the state’s voter registration database three days before a gubernatorial election he would go on to win was blasted at the time by cybersecurity experts, who said Kemp offered little evidence to support his claim. Six weeks later, a report confirming that Kemp made his accusation based on a single piece of flimsy evidence, and that no law-enforcement investigations ever took place, strongly suggests Georgia has ignored good election security practices, an expert in the field told StateScoop. Eric Hodge, the director of election security services for the security firm CyberScout, responded to a Dec. 14 report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that found that Kemp’s claim that Democrats tried to hack the state voter file was based on a lone email to a Democratic volunteer from a software developer who said he found vulnerabilities in the database. In his capacity as secretary of state, Kemp, who resigned Nov. 8, was Georgia’s top elections official, leading to criticisms about whether he should oversee an election for governor in which he was also the Republican candidate.

Full Article: Georgia has not followed good election security practices, cyber expert says.

Georgia: Recount ordered in repeat election for Georgia House seat after tally shows 2-vote difference | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

A recount was ordered Monday in the repeat election for a Georgia House seat after a tally showed the incumbent losing by two votes. State Rep. Dan Gasaway’s attorney, Jake Evans, said the Homer Republican sought the recount in his race against GOP challenger Chris Erwin after exploring his legal options. “If any election shows that every vote counts, it is this one,” Evans said. “We anxiously await the recount results.” Gasaway’s campaign asked for the recount Monday, and Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden ordered it later in the day.

Full Article: Recount ordered in repeat election for Georgia House seat after tally shows....

Georgia: In a dead heat with Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp created a diversion from computer security breakdown | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor, had a problem. As did Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state. It was Nov. 3, a Saturday, 72 hours to Election Day. Virtually tied in the polls with Democrat Stacey Abrams, Kemp was in danger of becoming the first Georgia Republican to lose a statewide election since 2006. And, now, a new threat. The secretary of state’s office had left its voter-registration system exposed online, opening Kemp to criticism that he couldn’t secure an election that featured him in the dual roles of candidate and overseer.But by the next day, Kemp and his aides had devised one solution for both problems, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows.They publicly accused the Democratic Party of Georgia of trying to hack into the voter database in a failed attempt to steal the election. The announcement added last-minute drama to an already contentious campaign. More important, it also pre-empted scrutiny of the secretary of state’s own missteps while initiating a highly unusual criminal investigation into his political rivals.But no evidence supported the allegations against the Democrats at the time, and none has emerged in the six weeks since, the Journal-Constitution found. It appears unlikely that any crime occurred. “There was no way a reasonable person would conclude this was an attempted attack,” said Matthew Bernhard, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan who has consulted with plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s use of outdated touch-screen voting machines.

Full Article: How Brian Kemp turned warning of election system vulnerability against.

Georgia: Voting Machine Panel Agrees Georgia Needs Paper Ballots By 2020, Disagrees On How To Mark Them | WABE

There was mostly cordial agreement Wednesday in the Macon office of Georgia’s Secretary of State about how the state’s elections should change. Democrats, Republicans, local election officials and one cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with reviewing Georgia’s options for new voting machines were united. The state’s system should include a paper trail voters can check for themselves, it should be auditable, voter education should be a focus as the new machines are rolled out, and the new system should be in place before the 2020 presidential elections. “In the middle of a very contentious election year,” Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland said, “I love that we are a nonpartisan group that all have the exact same goal in mind, and that’s to make sure that we have a safe, secure and trustworthy election process where every person’s vote is counted.”

Full Article: Voting Machine Panel Agrees Ga. Needs Paper Ballots By 2020, Disagrees On How To Mark Them | 90.1 FM WABE.

Georgia: Hand-Marked Ballots ‘Best Approach’ For New Voting Machines, Expert On Georgia Panel Says | WABE

It would be a “much less desirable approach” for Georgia’s next voting system to feature computers that mark paper ballots for voters based on their selections, according to the lone cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with making recommendations for replacements to the state’s electronic-only machines. The co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy, Wenke Lee, made his recommendation in a memo sent to the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission in October, and it was obtained by WABE this week. “The best approach,” Lee wrote, “is to require the voters to hand mark paper ballots that are scanned and tallied by cyber system but also dropped into a safe box. This is because marking each vote captures and verifies the voter’s intention in a single act.”

Full Article: Hand-Marked Ballots 'Best Approach' For New Voting Machines, Expert On Ga. Panel Says | 90.1 FM WABE.

Georgia: A panel reviewing a new Georgia election system remains divided | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A group responsible for vetting a more secure and trustworthy Georgia voting system struggled Wednesday to reach agreement over whether to pursue hand-marked paper ballots or touchscreen machines that print ballots. The group of election officials, state lawmakers, political party representatives and voters debated the state’s options to replace its 16-year-old electronic voting machines but didn’t make any decisions Wednesday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Commission, created by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp last spring when he was secretary of state, plans to hold its final meeting in early January to make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly. Though the commission failed to reach a consensus, its members heard overwhelming support from the public for hand-marked paper ballots, which voters would bubble in with a pen and then insert into scanning machines. Of 27 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, only one — a county elections director — said he wanted a system other than manually filled-in paper ballots.

Full Article: A panel reviewing a new Georgia election system remains divided.

Georgia: New elections chief will uphold strict voting standards | Atlanta Journal Constitution

As Georgia’s next top elections official, Republican Brad Raffensperger promises to defend broad voter-registration cancellations and strict voting requirements that have fueled accusations of widespread disenfranchisement. Raffensperger, the winner of Tuesday’s runoff for Georgia secretary of state, will continue the work of his predecessor, Gov.-elect Brian Kemp. Democrat John Barrow conceded to Raffensperger on Wednesday. While voter fraud is rare in Georgia, Raffensperger emphasizes election integrity over easy access to voting. He plans to cancel registrations of inactive voters, as Kemp did when more than 1.4 million people were removed from the state’s voting list starting in 2012.

Full Article: New Ga. elections chief will uphold strict voting standards.

Georgia: It’s time to solve the Mystery of the 100,000 Missing Votes | Atlanta Journal Constitution

The 2018 election season has finally ended. It’s over. Finis. Which means that the time is now ripe to take a cold-eyed, dispassionate and non-partisan look at the Mystery of the Missing 100,000 Votes. This is not about Georgia’s race for governor, but about the lieutenant governor’s contest. And the puzzle isn’t hidden, but sits on the secretary of state’s public website, staring at us like one of Edgar Allan Poe’s purloined letters. Let us begin the hunt by saying that Sarah Riggs Amico, the Democrat who lost to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes on Nov. 6, is not asking for a do-over. Yes, a lawsuit has been filed challenging the results, but she is not a party to it. Amico is more interested in finding an explanation. “I don’t think this needs to be looked at as a question of outcome. It needs to be looked at as a question of election integrity,” the former candidate said Monday at the Cobb County headquarters of her family’s trucking firm. Given that the state Legislature is about to embark on a fierce and expensive debate over the replacement of thousands of voting machines in all 159 counties, her search could be an important one.

Full Article: It's time to solve the Mystery of the 100,000 Missing Votes.

Georgia: Georgia to pick new elections chief amid voting rights debate | Reuters

Georgia voters return to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new elections chief in a state where critics accused Republicans this autumn of exploiting the position to suppress minority voting rights. Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow were forced into a runoff in the secretary of state race after neither candidate secured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 6 general election as required by state law. The contest has showcased the partisan divisions still rankling the state after its hard-fought governor’s contest, which saw widespread reports of voting problems during an election overseen by the Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, then secretary of state.

Full Article: Georgia to pick new elections chief amid voting rights debate | Reuters.

Georgia: With New Scrutiny On Voting In Georgia, State Will Pick Top Election Official | WABE

The Nov. 6 midterms, and the prolonged vote count afterward, tested Georgian’s trust in how the state’s elections are administered. Multiple lawsuits were filed, and Democrats and Republicans, without evidence, accused each other of trying to steal the election. Now, less than two weeks after the statewide results were certified, voters will pick a new Secretary of State, Georgia’s top election official. Neither Republican Brad Raffensperger nor Democrat John Barrow could secure a majority of votes in the Nov. 6 general election, pushing their race to a runoff on Tuesday. The winner of the runoff will replace interim Secretary of State, Robyn Crittenden, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal when former Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp resigned.

Full Article: With New Scrutiny On Voting In Georgia, State Will Pick Top Election Official | 90.1 FM WABE.