Georgia needs new voting technology. That was the basis, at least in part, for a meeting at a Cobb County library Wednesday of state lawmakers, local election officials, a cybersecurity expert and political party representatives. They’re part of the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission appointed by Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. It’s tasked with looking at how best to phase out Georgia’s current voting machines first introduced in 2002. “I think the time is late,” said Democratic state Sen. Lester Jackson, who sits on the commission. “But I think this is absolutely necessary, that we have a valid voting process for 2020. One of the most important elections of all time.”
An effort to trash Georgia’s electronic voting machines got underway Wednesday amid disagreements over how to make the state’s elections secure and accurate. The first meeting of a group that will recommend a replacement voting system showed divides over whether Georgia should use pen-and-paper ballots or touchscreen machines to print ballots. Brought together by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission will review options for the state’s next voting system and then make a recommendation to the General Assembly before next year’s legislative session. A new voting system could be in place in time for the 2020 presidential election.
Nothing will get an elected official angrier than when you talk about voting and voting machines. Exhibit A the Shelby County Diebold Voting Machines or as Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland calls them the dee-bold machines. He wishes they machines would just go away. just head for that big election in the sky just up and dee. “I don’t have any confidence in that dee-bold machine,” Roland told other commissioners, “And I think the public don’t have any confidence. And I think because of the machines that might be why we have a lack of participation in Shelby County in elections. I think that’s one thing we can change.” This whole thing just popped up in a meeting where Elections Administrator Linda Phillips wanted commissioners to give the elections commission $175-thousand dollars to buy something else. “We need the devices that create the voter access card to be used with our current voting machines,”she says.
Before this November’s election, a federal judge will have to decide whether Georgia’s electronic voting machines are too hackable to be used any longer. A lawsuit pending in federal court is trying to force the state government to immediately abandon its 16-year-old touchscreen machines and instead rely on paper ballots. The plaintiffs, a group of election integrity activists and voters, say the courts need to step in to safeguard democracy in Georgia. Legislation to replace the state’s electronic voting machines failed to pass at the Georgia Capitol this year, and tech experts have repeatedly shown how malware could change election results. But Georgia election officials say the state’s digital voting system is safe and accurate. Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently recertified the machines after tests showed they correctly reported election results.
Mississippi can expect to receive nearly $4.5 million from the federal government in the next few months to improve election security, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann applied for a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which has about $90 million available to divide among states for election security measures. Spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith said Tuesday that Mississippi should receive its money before the general election this November.
The Wyoming Legislature will look at a measure to create a trust fund to maintain its voting systems going forward. The 2016 election saw an unprecedented number of attempts to interfere with states’ voting systems, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Wyoming was not among the 21 states that reported attempted hacking, but election security experts warned regional lawmakers recently that the Cowboy State could be a target for nefarious actors looking to undermine confidence in the American democratic process. Outdated voting equipment in Wyoming was replaced after funding was allocated by the federal government via the 2002 Help America Vote Act. But more than a decade later, many election custodians say that voting equipment has reached the end of its useful life, said Kai Schon, state elections director for the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Georgia: Georgia is voting on insecure machines in today’s primary. This group is suing | The Washington Post
When Georgia voters head to the polls for the state’s primary today, they’ll cast their ballots on aging electronic voting machines that government officials and security experts agree are easy to hack. But if a long-shot federal lawsuit succeeds, they could vote in a much more secure way come November: On paper. As the intelligence community warns against a repeat of the kind of digital interference we saw in the 2016 elections, a nonpartisan advocacy organization and a group of Georgia voters are asking a judge to compel the state to abandon its electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots before the midterm elections. The electronic machines produce no paper vote record, making them virtually impossible to audit. The plaintiffs want the state instead to switch to a hand-marked paper ballot system, which experts widely regard as safer because the results can be easily verified.
Some big legal guns are squaring off in a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s use of all-electronic voting systems. A major national law firm has deployed attorneys to represent plaintiffs in the suit on a pro bono basis, going up against a more locally based defense team that includes Georgia’s former governor. John Carlin, former assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the National Security Division, and his partner in the Washington, D.C., office of AmLaw 35 national law firm Morrison & Foerster, David Cross, are representing three Georgia voters who claim their fundamental constitutional right to vote is endangered by the systems. On the other side, representing the State Election Board, its members and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are John Frank Salter Jr. and former Gov. Roy Barnes of the Barnes Law Group. Prior to serving as DOJ’s highest-ranking national security lawyer, MoFo’s Carlin served as chief of staff and senior counsel to former FBI director Robert Mueller III. In that role, he helped lead the agency’s evolution to meet growing and changing national security threats, including cyber threats, according to his firm bio.
Georgia: Nonprofit Sues Georgia, Seeking to Prevent Voting on All-Electric Systems in November | GovTech
Georgia’s Secretary of State office is facing a lawsuit over its use of an all-electronic voting system with no paper ballot verification backups, one of five states that currently use such a system. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is holding proceedings for Donna Curling v. Brian Kemp. Plaintiff attorney David Cross said his clients are asking the judge for a preliminary injunction to stop Secretary of State Brian Kemp from using Georgia’s current all-electronic voting system in the November elections. The lawsuit stems from the alleged 2016 discovery of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in Georgia’s Direct Recording Equipment (DRE) voting system. The plaintiffs claim that the Secretary of State’s ignored repeated warnings from cybersecurity experts and told them, in essence, to go away, according to a copy of the amended complaint. The complaint asserted that there is an “incompatibility between the functioning of the current electronic voting system and the voters’ right to cast a secret ballot and have that vote accurately counted.”
Georgia is in line for more than $10 million in federal funds to help with election security as part of a spending bill recently passed by Congress, but voters statewide are still set to cast ballots during the 2018 midterms on ageing equipment labeled vulnerable. The direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used in Georgia since 2002 have no paper trail allowing voters to check their choices are recorded accurately. Thirteen states still use DRE machines, and Georgia is one of five states were they’re used exclusively.