When Georgia voters cast their ballots this fall, some will wonder whether the state’s outdated touchscreen voting machines are safe and accurate. Election officials say voters have nothing to fear, but election integrity advocates say there’s good reason to worry. Electronic voting machines could be hacked if someone got around security measures. There’s no paper backup. And a state election computer exposed voting information online for months. Even a federal judge said this week that there’s a “mounting tide of evidence” the state’s digital voting system is at risk. Can Georgians trust their votes will be counted in the election for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp? Skeptics say they’ve lost faith in the system and in Kemp’s ability to oversee it while running for higher office. Kemp and election officials are trying to reassure voters that the election system hasn’t been compromised, and that voting is safe and accurate.Full Article: Hacking fears fuel mistrust of Georgia voting machines.
Georgia election officials are appealing a federal judge’s decision to allow voters to continue a challenge to the state’s practice of relying solely on electronic voting machines in its elections. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp filed a notice of appeal Tuesday evening after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled the Coalition for Good Governance had validly stated a claim that the machines used in the state’s election are vulnerable to hacking. The group, representing voters across the state, had hoped Totenberg would issue a preliminary injunction and order the state to use paper ballots during the November midterm election. Totenberg declined to do so due to the lack of time to get the new system in place before November 6.Full Article: Georgia Officials to Appeal Paper Ballot Ruling to 11th Circuit.
Georgia won’t be required to make a last-minute switch to paper ballots for the November midterm elections, but a federal judge still sent a strong message to election officials that she saw significant flaws with the state’s “dated, vulnerable” voting system. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on Monday denied a motion by a group of voters seeking to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp and county election offices to stop using direct recording electronic voting machines, or DREs, for anyone other than people with disabilities in 2018. DREs use reprogrammable, removable memory cards vulnerable to hackers and don’t produce an independent paper audit trail. In her order, Totenberg noted that during recent testimony she heard from both county and state officials that the logistics of moving to a paper ballot with early voting coming next month would create chaos for voters. But the judge also emphasized that she “advises the Defendants that further delay is not tolerable in their confronting of and tackling the challenges before the State’s election balloting system.”Full Article: Federal Judge Blasts Georgia’s ‘Dated, Vulnerable’ Voting System - Nextgov.
As Georgia’s top elections official runs for governor, a federal judge said the state has stalled too long in the face of “a mounting tide of evidence of the inadequacy and security risks” of its voting system. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is in the midst of a closely watched race against Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state House minority leader who’s trying to become the country’s first black, female governor. He has repeatedly insisted that Georgia’s current voting system is secure. Voting integrity advocates sued last year, arguing that the touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and provide no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there’s no paper trail. They sought an immediate change to paper ballots for the midterm elections while the case is pending. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg declined to grant that request Monday, saying that although voting integrity advocates have demonstrated “the threat of real harms to their constitutional interests,” she worried about the “massive scrambling” required for a last-minute change to paper ballots. Early voting starts Oct. 15 for the Nov. 6 midterm elections.Full Article: Judge: Georgia has stalled in face of voting system risks | Technology | lancasteronline.com.
A federal judge ruled Monday that Georgia can continue using electronic voting machines in November’s election despite concerns they could be hacked. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg denied a request for an injunction that would have forced the state’s 6.8 million voters to switch to hand-marked paper ballots. Totenberg made her decision in an ongoing lawsuit from voters and election integrity organizations who say Georgia’s direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines are untrustworthy and insecure. Georgia is one of five states that relies entirely on electronic voting machines without a verifiable paper backup. Her 46-page order Monday said she was concerned about “voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process” if she had prohibited electronic voting machines just weeks before the election. “There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion and long lines to sour a citizen,” Totenberg wrote.Full Article: Georgia Election 2018: Judges upholds electronic voting machines.
A federal judge ruled Monday that forcing Georgia to scrap its electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots for the upcoming midterm elections is too risky, though she said she has grave concerns about the machines that experts have said are vulnerable to hacking. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s ruling means the state won’t have to use paper ballots for this year’s midterm elections, including a high-profile gubernatorial contest between the state’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state House minority leader who’s trying to become the country’s first black, female governor. Voting integrity advocates and Georgia voters sued state and county election officials, arguing the touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and provide no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there’s no paper trail.Full Article: Judge won’t force Georgia to use paper ballots for midterms | The Kansas City Star.
WJBF Atlanta Bureau Chief Ashley Bridges was in oral arguments as attorneys for Secretary Brian Kemp and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office fought back against a suit to immediately move to paper ballots due to the insecurity of Georgia’s election system. Federal Court proceedings do not allow recording devices, but here’s a rough log of Bridges’ “Reporter’s Notebook.” Areas that may be of particular interest, or that grew particularly heated. Attorneys referenced below for the Plaintiff’s filing the case are Cross, Macguire and Brown. \Attorneys for Kemp and the Secretary of State are former Governor Roy Barnes and his son-in-law John Salter. (A political twist that surprised many when Democrat Barnes took the case, instead of Georgia’s own attorney general) Totenberg is the judge.
Plaintiffs: Present a just-released National Academy of Sciences report claiming, “Every effort should be made to use human-readable paper ballots in the 2018 election.”
Salter for Secretary of State: Claimed Kemp believes that the election can be “safely and accurately” conducted and Plaintiffs want judge to “rule to make this elephant have wings and fly”
Totenberg: “The reality is times change and we’re in a rapidly changing time”
Plaintiffs: David Cross: “Georgia is frozen in time” have a right not “just to the case, but to have that ballot count”Full Article: Reporter's Notebook: What was said in court case arguing Georgia election security.
Logan Lamb, a cybersecurity sleuth, thought he was conducting an innocuous Google search to pull up information on Georgia’s centralized system for conducting elections. He was taken aback when the query turned up a file with a list of voters and then alarmed when a subsequent simple data pull retrieved the birth dates, drivers’ license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of more than 6 million voters, as well as county election supervisors’ passwords for use on Election Day. He also discovered the server had a software flaw that an attacker could exploit to take control of the machine. The unsecured server that Lamb exposed in August 2016 is part of an election system — the only one in the country that is centrally run and relies upon computerized touch-screen machines for its voters — that is now at the heart of a legal and political battle with national security implications. On one side are activists who have sued the state to switch to paper ballots in the November midterm elections to guard against the potential threat of Russian hacking or other foreign interference. On the other is Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has declared the electronic system secure and contends that moving to paper ballots with less than two months to Election Day will spawn chaos and could undermine confidence among Georgia’s 6.8 million voters.Full Article: In Georgia, a legal battle over electronic vs. paper voting - The Washington Post.
Georgia voters may find out by month’s end whether they’ll be going back to paper ballots in a November election with one of the nation’s most closely watched gubernatorial races. A good-government group claims in a lawsuit that the state’s electronic-voting system is at such risk of Russian-style interference that the Republican-led state is violating residents’ constitutional rights by failing to fix the problem. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 in Atlanta and said she’ll issue an opinion within two weeks on the group’s request for a paper ballot. Georgia’s election databases and 27,000 touchscreen voting machines could be hacked to erase valid registrations, add fake voters and even switch votes to decide which candidate wins, the group said in the lawsuit. And the state is an inviting target, they say, because its machines are easy to hack and the state has a large number of registered voters — about 7 million.Full Article: Fearing Voting Machine Hacks, Georgians Plead for Paper Ballots - Bloomberg.
A federal judge could rule Wednesday on a far-reaching request to switch Georgia from electronic to paper ballots just eight weeks before November’s election. Changing the state’s voting system on short notice would be a dramatic change, but concerned voters and election integrity groups say it would eliminate the possibility the state’s touchscreen machines, which lack a verifiable paper backup, could be hacked. They’ll be in court Wednesday to ask U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg for an injunction prohibiting election officials from using the state’s 27,000 direct-recording electronic voting units, or DREs. Instead, voters would use pens to fill in paper ballots by hand. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the defendant in the case, strongly opposes a quick move away from the voting system in place since 2002. He said electronic voting machines are secure and that a rushed transition to paper would result in a less trustworthy election system. But Donna Curling, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Georgia’s electronic voting machines are inherently unsafe. If voting machines were penetrated by hackers, malicious code could rig elections, she said.Full Article: Hearing set to consider switching Georgia to paper ballots.
A federal judge will not dismiss a lawsuit filed against Georgia’s Secretary of State which would require Georgia to move to paper ballots ahead of November’s election. The suit was filed due to concerns over the insecurity of Georgia’s voting systems. This means the case will move forward and both sides will present their arguments in front of a judge on September 17. Pleadings by Secretary Kemp’s legal team refer to the experts saying Georgia needs paper ballots as “so-called experts” who are only Ph.D. candidates, hackers, or low-level functionaries. They also use the term “Luddite.” WSAV’s Atlanta Capitol Correspondent, Ashley Bridges, spoke to a world-renowned cyber security expert who says our system is one of the worst in the country. “I don’t think of myself as a Luddite,” says Dr. Richard DeMillo. In reality, Dr. Richard DeMillo holds nearly 50 years of expertise in computer science and cyber security, with a PhD from Georgia Tech, even serving as the university’s Dean of Computing. He says it’s because he does understand the technology that he thinks Georgia has to throw it out. “I have an appreciation for the complexity it takes. Like most people that look at it objectively, it’s about the worst in the country.”Full Article: Lawsuit requiring Georgia to use paper ballots in next election moves forward.
When it comes to election interference in the 2018 midterms, critics say Georgia is ripe for the picking. The state uses dubious electronic voting machines that offer no paper backup so as to detect foul play, and have been shown to be easily penetrated. “These are old school voting systems. I call them old school because they are one of the few systems in the country that still don’t have a paper trail on them,” freelance journalist Kim Zetter told Grant Burningham, host of Yahoo News’ “Bots & Ballots” podcast. “So these are what are called direct recording electronic [DRE] machines. They’re touch screen machines. They were made initially by Diebold, and Diebold, if you’ll recall, had a lot of bad publicity back in 2004, 2005, when the source code for their touchscreen machines was exposed online, and researchers looked at it and found a lot of problems.”Full Article: Georgia under fire over voting machines.
County election officials across Georgia say it’s too late to switch to paper ballots in the upcoming elections, despite warnings that hackers could easily penetrate the state’s antiquated electronic voting system and that Russia could unleash a new wave of disruptive cyberattacks. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg is expected to rule any day on whether the state must switch to old-fashioned paper ballots. Her ruling would come in response to a year-old lawsuit by citizen activists. They argue that the state’s current system of relying on electronic voting machines that lack a paper backup is “hopelessly compromised” and paper ballots are necessary to ensure public confidence in the results. Georgia is just one of many states dealing with the fallout of the U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia worked to influence the 2016 campaign and has compromised — or tried to compromise — state election systems across the country to disrupt the 2018 midterms elections. But interviews and court statements from Republican and Democratic county officials and from state election officials drew the same response: It’s just too late to make the switch.Full Article: GA election: Too late to switch to paper ballots, officials say | McClatchy Washington Bureau.
A coalition in Georgia is filing a lawsuit to force the state to adopt paper ballots in the upcoming midterm elections, a move it claims will improve election security. The Coalition for Good Governance is alleging in a federal lawsuit that Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current secretary of state, failed to adequately safeguard the state’s voting system from a breach that allegedly left 6 million Georgia voters’ records exposed, CNN reported. The group is claiming Georgia is one of the only states left that does not use a paper ballot, which makes it harder to verify election results.Full Article: Group files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots | TheHill.
In the fall of 2016, as reports of Russian-backed hacking of state election systems were surfacing, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, rejected federal offers of help to secure his state’s voting systems. “The question remains whether the federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security,” Kemp told a technology website. Now, Kemp is the Republican nominee to be Georgia’s next governor, and in another election season where cyber-attacks are in the air, his record securing the state’s elections is becoming a campaign issue. This past week, the Georgia Democratic Party called for Kemp’s resignation, citing in part his response to Russian-backed hacking attempts of state voting systems in 2016.Full Article: Election Security Becomes A Political Issue In Georgia Governor's Race | WBUR News.
It appeared, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, that Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May. Some 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout. But on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the number of registered voters on the secretary of state’s website was changed for Mud Creek to 3,704 registered voters, reflecting a more likely turnout of about 18 percent. The odd turnout figures last Friday were filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election security activists that included a number of sworn statements and exhibits from activists and voters who experienced a series of bizarre and confusing issues at the state’s polling places. That confusion comes amid swelling public concern for the security of Georgia’s voting systems. Georgia is one of four states that uses voting machines statewide that produce no paper record for voters to verify, making them difficult to audit, experts say.Full Article: Activists collect tales of voting problems in GA primary | McClatchy Washington Bureau.
With worn-out clichés about the dead voting, Chicago used to be the poster child for voter fraud. But if any state is a poster child for terrible election practices, it is surely Georgia. Bold claims demand bold evidence, and unfortunately there’s plenty; on Monday, McClatchy reported a string of irregularities from the state’s primary election in May, including one precinct with a 243-percent turnout. McClatchy’s data comes from a federal lawsuit filed against the state. In addition to the problem in Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct, where it appeared that 276 registered voters managed to cast 670 ballots, the piece describes numerous other issues with both voter registration and electronic voting machines. (In fact it was later corrected to show 3,704 registered voters in the precinct.)Full Article: Georgia defends voting system despite 243-percent turnout in one precinct | Ars Technica.
A federal judge wants to know what it would take to shift Georgia to a paper ballot voting system in the three months before the November election. A former Virginia election official says it’s possible. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the Georgia secretary of state’s office, among others, to look into the “concrete realities” of moving to a paper ballot election in a time crunch. The move is in response to a lawsuit, filed in July by a group of election integrity activists, meant to stop Georgia from using electronic voting machines that have no paper backup. Liz Howard, a former deputy commissioner with Virginia’s Department of Elections, said that state pulled off very quick transitions across dozens of counties, twice. “We have hands on experience with ‘this is doable,’ how it’s doable, the partners that we worked with and working with local election officials while they’re making the transition,” Howard said.Full Article: Could Georgia Have Paper Ballots By November? Look To Virginia | 90.1 FM WABE.
The Alaska Division of Elections is in the middle of preparations for this fall’s statewide primary and general elections, but in a meeting Wednesday, the division showed it also has its eyes on 2020. In a meeting of the statewide election policy task force, division officials said they are preparing to acquire new voting equipment even as they consider whether the state should change the way it conducts elections. “It’s kind of two separate projects. It’s equipment replacement and it’s expanding options for ballot access in the future,” Josie Bahnke, the division’s director, said by phone after the meeting. Nothing will change before this year’s Aug. 21 primary or the Nov. 6 general election. Voters will still go to polling stations across the state, they’ll still pick up pens, and they’ll still fill in ovals on paper ballots, then feed those ballots into 20-year-old scanners.Full Article: Prepping for 2018 election, state looks at 2020 | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.
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.”Full Article: Georgia Panel Looks To Phase Out State’s 16-Year-Old Voting Machines | 90.1 FM WABE.