Georgia’s outdated voting machines are in the spotlight as election integrity advocates try to convince the state’s highest court that a judge shouldn’t have dismissed a lawsuit challenging the outcome of November’s race for lieutenant governor. The lawsuit says tens of thousands of votes were never recorded in the race and the contest was “so defective and marred by material irregularities” as to place the result in doubt. It contends an unexplained undervote in the race was likely caused by problems with the state’s paperless touchscreen voting machines. Republican Geoff Duncan beat Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes to become lieutenant governor.
A handful of lawmakers began the discussion Friday about what it might take to move Georgia to a new election system, an important but incremental step toward replacing the state’s aging voting machines. The meeting of the state House Science and Technology Committee represents a start. Any decision will likely take a few years and, depending on the type of system officials pick, could cost more than $100 million. Cheaper options are available, but the state’s leaders all need to agree on what they want. “We all want to have a system that is best in class and does all the things technology can provide for us,” said committee Chairman Ed Setzler, R-Acworth. Beginning that conversation now, he added, means the “committee starts out of session to look at these things and to look at what technological options can serve our state well.” Georgia’s current system, considered state-of-the-art when it was adopted 15 years ago, is now universally acknowledged by experts to be vulnerable to security risks and buggy software. Only a handful of states still use similar electronic systems, which voters know for their digital touch screens. A majority — 41 states — either have or are moving toward voting done entirely on paper or on a hybrid system that incorporates some kind of paper trail.
The state of Alaska is exploring options for conducting elections after 2018, as it is faced with an aging voting system and financial pressures amid an ongoing state budget deficit. A bipartisan working group established by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott is examining the issue. Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, said one option that has gotten attention is a hybrid system would include allowing for early, in-person voting and voting by mail. But she said discussions are preliminary and more research must be done to see if this approach would work in Alaska, a vast state with far-flung communities. In certain parts of Alaska, the state must provide language assistance, including for a number of Alaska Native languages and dialects.
First elections, then probes into hacking. Now, the lawsuits over election hacking. A group of Democrat and Republican voters in Georgia is suing the state to overturn its fiercely fought June special election, saying evidence the state’s voter database was exposed to potential hackers for at least eight months invalidates the results. The lawsuit, which went to pre-trial conferences this week, could be a sign of disputes to come as revelations mount about the vulnerability of the U.S. election system and Russian attempts to infiltrate it. “As public attention finally starts to focus on the cybersecurity of election systems, we will see more suits like this one, and eventually, a woke judge will invalidate an election,” said Bruce McConnell, vice president of the EastWest Institute and former Department of Homeland Security deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity during the Obama administration. Plaintiffs argue the disclosure in August 2016 by Logan Lamb, a Georgia-based computer security expert, that much of Georgia’s voting system was inadvertently left out in the open on the Internet without password protection from August 2016 to March 2017 should make the results moot. What’s more, Georgia’s use of what the plaintiffs say are insecure touch-screen voting computers, which they claim don’t comply with Georgia state requirements for security testing, means the election results couldn’t legally be certified, they say.
Georgia: Voters, Colorado nonprofit sue to overturn special election results in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District | Colorado Politics
A group of Georgia voters and a Colorado-based watchdog organization filed a lawsuit late Monday asking a judge to overturn the results of last month’s 6th Congressional District special election and scrap the state’s voting system, Colorado Politics has learned. The complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges that state and local election officials ignored warnings for months that Georgia’s centralized election system — already known for potential security flaws and lacking a paper trail to verify results — had been compromised and left unprotected from intruders since at least last summer, casting doubt on Republican Karen Handel’s 3.8-point win over Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race in the nation’s history. … The plaintiffs — including Colorado nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance and Georgia voters from both major political parties and a conservative third party — charge that recent revelations about a security hole on a computer server used to run Georgia elections only amplified longstanding concerns about the state’s antiquated voting equipment and its susceptibility to hackers. “We aren’t questioning one candidate over another,” lead plaintiff Donna Curling told Colorado Politics. “We’re saying it’s impossible to know.”
Georgia’s electronic touchscreen voting system is so riddled with problems that the results of the most expensive House race in U.S. history should be tossed out and a new election held, according to a lawsuit filed by a government watchdog group and six Georgia voters. The lawsuit was filed Monday in Fulton County Superior Court by the Colorado-based Coalition for Good Governance and voters who are members of the group. It seeks to overturn the results of the June 20 runoff election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Handel was declared the winner with 52 percent of the vote to Ossoff’s 48. The named defendants include Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, members of the State Election Board, local election officials in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb counties and the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University.
The polls are closing in Georgia following the most expensive congressional election in American history. As results are announced, there’s significant controversy over the credibility of those results. “Georgia’s voting issues aren’t rooted in any specific hacking threat,” reports Wired. “The problem instead lies in the state’s inability to prove if fraud or tampering happened in the first place.” The state of Georgia has 27,000 voting machines from the now-defunct Premier Election Systems (formerly known as Diebold) and 6,000 ExpressPoll machines — also made by Diebold. None of the machines have a paper trail. “You have an un-provable system,” says Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting told Wired. “It might be right, it might not be right, and that absence of authoritative confirmation is the biggest problem. It’s corrosive.”
Early voting in the runoff for Georgia’s Sixth District congressional seat kicked off May 30; election day itself comes on June 20. The race has garnered national attention as one in which Democrats could pick up a long-held Republican seat. It has also generated scrutiny, though, for taking place in a state with some of the most lax protections against electoral fraud, at a time when Russia has meddled freely in campaigns in the US and abroad. But Georgia’s voting issues aren’t rooted in any specific hacking threat. The problem instead lies in the state’s inability to prove if fraud or tampering happened in the first place. By not deploying a simple paper backup system, Georgia opens itself up to one of the most damaging electoral outcomes of all: uncertainty.
“You have an un-provable system,” says Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a group that promotes best practices at the polls. “It might be right, it might not be right, and that absence of authoritative confirmation is the biggest problem. It’s corrosive.”
Georgia: GOP congressional candidate Handel ignored election integrity report, Georgia professor says | The Washington Post
Eleven years ago, after Karen Handel had been elected as Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state since Reconstruction, Richard DeMillo, head of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research at Georgia Tech, got a call about an important project. The state’s election system, updated with new machines, needed a hard look. “They said: Take a look at our processes, take a look at our technology, and give us your opinion,” DeMillo said. “I assigned some people from our Information Security Center to work on it.” In May 2008, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and Office of Policy Analysis and Research released its report, “A Security Study of the Processes and Procedures Surrounding Electronic Voting in Georgia.” A number of potential problems came up, from the transportation of election machines by prison laborers to password protection of machines and poll-watcher training.
Georgia: Security lapses may lead Georgia to ditch election data center | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Kennesaw State University center that has helped run Georgia’s elections for the past 15 years may lose its contract in a matter of weeks because of concerns over security lapses that left 6.5 million voter records exposed. The secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that it is “actively investigating alternative arrangements” to using Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems, news that coincided with the unmasking by Politico Magazine of the security researchers behind a data scare involving the center that became public in March. “All options are on the table,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The center’s annual $800,000 contract with the state ends June 30.
On Friday, a judge dismissed the lawsuit to use paper ballots in the upcoming June 20 special election to decide the Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seat. The high-profile race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel will fill the seat left behind by Tom Price, who now serves as Trump’s secretary of health and human services. … Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp appeared happy with the results and said that he applauds “the judge for finding what we already know: Our voting machines in Georgia are safe and accurate.” However, Kemp has previously expressed concern about voting-system security. In 2016, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp accused the Department of Homeland Security of trying to hack into Georgia’s computer network.
Georgia: Judge dismisses paper-ballot lawsuit in Georgia’s 6th District | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District will continue to cast ballots on electronic machines after a Fulton County judge dismissed a lawsuit trying to force the use of paper ballots. Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams’ ruling late Friday night came after an eight-hour hearing earlier this week over the suit’s insistence that Georgia’s reliance on voting machines was endangering the vote. The machines, it said, are too old, unreliable and vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks without a forensic review to verify they had not been compromised. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp celebrated Adams’ decision, which came two weeks into the state’s mandatory three-week early voting period for the nationally watched June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Georgia: Ruling on paper-ballot suit in Georgia’s 6th District coming soon | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District will likely know by week’s end whether they can continue using electronic machines or will have to cast ballots on paper. A decision to go with paper ballots would all but void the state’s current voting system with less than two weeks to go before a key election. A Fulton County judge heard eight hours of testimony and arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit calling for paper ballots in the hotly contested June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.
A non-profit group is demanding that Fulton County use paper ballots during the sixth district runoff race. In a motion brought by Rocky Mountain Foundation and members of Georgians for Verified Voting, the organizations presented a case that the state’s touch screen-based voting system is “uncertified, unsafe and inaccurate” and that the county officials must instead use paper ballots in the election to have a verifiable transparent election. The group noted a FBI investigation of a cyber-attack on the Center for Election Systems (CES) at Kennesaw State University, the entity responsible for testing and programming voting machines across Georgia.
Georgia’s voting infrastructure is too old, unreliable and vulnerable to be used without a forensic review of its operating systems, according to a lawsuit seeking to require voters’ use of paper ballots for next month’s 6th Congressional District runoff election. The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, names Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp — the state’s top election official — as a defendant, along with the election directors for all three counties that have communities in the 6th District: Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton. It comes at a crucial time. Early in-person voting for the June 20 runoff begins Tuesday, with all eyes on Georgia ahead of the hotly contested race between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. … The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Foundation filed the suit in conjunction with two Georgia voters, Donna Curling and Donna Price. Both Price and Curling are members of the foundation, which focuses on fair elections and government transparency, as well as a group called Georgians for Verified Voting.
Georgia: Voters seek review of Georgia voting system before 6th District runoff | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Eleven voters have asked Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to review the state’s voting system ahead of next month’s hotly contested 6th Congressional District runoff. The request is allowed under state law. It comes after one of the three counties in the district — Fulton — experienced a technical snafu on April 18 that delayed reported election results in the race. It also follows a letter to Kemp in March from a group of voting advocates who recommended that the state overhaul its elections system and begin using a system with a paper audit trail.
Georgia: Prior to suspected breach, KSU voting center received warning | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Kennesaw State University officials received a warning before the presidential election that a server system used by its election center may be vulnerable to a data breach. But they only notified state officials that they could have a problem after a second contact from a potential hacker raised alarms about the security of millions of Georgia voter records, according to top state officials briefed on the issue but not authorized to speak on the record. It is not clear whether the university acted to address the potential problem identified by the hacker last fall, those officials said. KSU hasn’t publicly discussed the alleged breach, citing an open investigation. It is also not clear the hacker had any ill intent and ever actually accessed the records, which the university keeps on behalf of the state as part of its Center for Election Systems.
A group of technology experts said Tuesday that Georgia’s top elections officials should stop using electronic voting machines as the FBI reviews a suspected data breach. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Kennesaw State University this month confirmed a federal investigation focused on the school’s Center for Election Systems. The center tests and certifies Georgia’s voting machines and electronic polling books used to check in voters at polling locations. Employees also format ballots for every election held in the state. The center isn’t part of Kemp’s office or connected to its networks, including Georgia’s database of registered voters maintained by the secretary of state’s office. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the investigation into the suspected cyberattack. In a letter to Kemp on Tuesday, 20 technology experts and computer science professors affiliated with the national Verified Voting organization said paper ballots will preserve voters’ confidence in the results of an upcoming special election to fill Georgia’s 6th District congressional seat. The letter said using equipment maintained by the center while it is the focus of a criminal investigation “can raise deep concerns.”
Georgia and Cobb election officials are rejecting calls from advocacy groups for voters to use paper ballots while the FBI investigates a data breach at Kennesaw State University. Voters will continue to use electronic voting machines during upcoming elections, said Candice Broce, spokesperson for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The use of paper ballots is reserved as a backup system in case there is a problem with the voting machines, she said. Cobb voters will also use the voting machines in next week’s special elections for the 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax for education and the vacant Marietta school board Ward 6 seat, said Janine Eveler, director of Cobb elections. Earlier this month, KSU announced a federal investigation at the Center for Elections Systems located on the Kennesaw campus to determine if there was a data breach that might have affected the center’s records, according to Tammy DeMel, spokesperson for the university.
Georgia: Experts push paper ballot trail after alleged breach of Georgia data | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A group of 20 computer scientists and security experts called on Georgia to overhaul its elections system and begin using a system with a paper audit trail, saying it would assure accuracy and public confidence following an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records. In a letter sent Tuesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the group acknowledged that the breach is now under federal investigation and that much is still unknown. But, it said, potential findings “could have dire security consequences for the integrity of the technology and all elections carried out in Georgia” depending on their severity. “While we understand that this investigation is ongoing and that it will take time for the full picture to emerge, we request that you be as forthcoming and transparent as possible regarding critical information about the breach and the investigation, as such leadership not only will be respected in Georgia but also emulated in other states where such a breach could occur,” the group said. Most members of the group are involved with the voting-accuracy organization Verified Voting.
Kansas: Software problem slowed Johnson County vote counting on election night | The Kansas City Star
Software that malfunctioned and stalled vote tallying in Johnson County for more than three hours on election night was of the same brand that has been under scrutiny for years and has caused counting errors in other parts of the country. The Global Election Management System – or GEMS – was not the only cause of a breakdown on election night, but it was definitely one of the most frustrating, said county Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker. Vote counters lost hours of time as they waited for help from a technical support person in Nebraska who they hoped could tell them why the system suddenly dropped 2,100 ballots from its database and how to get them back. When that help wasn’t forthcoming, the workers ended up re-scanning the paper ballots so they could be re-loaded into the database. In the end, election officials didn’t get their closing totals out until about 1:30 p.m. the next day, due to the computer breakdown and tidal waves of last-minute registrations and advance votes, Metsker said.
Voters in Maryland will be casting their votes with black pens and paper ballots in the upcoming presidential primary, nearly a decade after lawmakers decided to get rid of touch-screen machines that leave no paper trail. The search for new equipment was mired in delays and setbacks before the state finally approved a $28 million contract last December. And even with the new ballots and scanners in hand, Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has raised questions in recent weeks about whether the state is headed for disaster in its rush to get them up and running. Rockville and College Park deployed the new machines without trouble in their fall municipal elections, but the April 26 primary election will be the first statewide test of the new system. Voters will be casting ballots in the presidential primary and in heated races to nominate candidates to succeed Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) in the U.S. Senate and to fill two open congressional seats.
Lowndes County supervisors plan to seek bids to buy new voting machine system that scans paper ballots. Supervisors on Monday approved a request by county purchasing clerk Terry Thompson to solicit bids, The Commercial Dispatch newspaper reported. The equipment would replace a TSX electronic voting system that has been used since 2005 to process votes digitally. Mississippi received federal funding in 2005 for TSX systems as well as maintenance and technical support. County circuit clerk Haley Salazar said in September that money for support and upkeep will not be provided after this year and that going back to paper ballots would be more efficient for voters, poll workers and election commissioners.
Arizona: Elections catching up with technology: Changes piloted in November in Pima County | Tucson Citizen
Goodbye, unwieldy manual signature roster books. Hello, tablets. Under a pilot project being implemented by Pima County in the Nov. 5 Vail incorporation election, voters who go to the polls will be able to use a mobile computer that’s smaller than a laptop to sign for their ballots. … The polling places also will no longer use precinct-based scanning equipment. Instead, voters will drop their ballots into a secure box that is under observation at all times by poll workers and then securely transported to a central tabulating facility at the Elections Office located at 6550 S. Country Club Road. Independent observers will continue to oversee the process and results will be audited.
Before the year ends, the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections has to purchase 55 voting machines to be in compliance with state law. Monday the Tuscarawas County Commissioners approved more than $35,000 in transfers from various funds to cover the cost. Sarah Kneuss, the board’s deputy director, said the machines will be ready and available in 2014 in time for the gubernatorial election. She said it isn’t necessary to have them in time for next week’s election. Kneuss said the county made big purchases in 2005, purchasing several electronic machines to be compliant with the law. “We have to have one machine for every 175 registered voters in a precinct,” she explained.
The Anchorage city clerks office is calling the voter turn out in yesterday’s election “unprecedented.” The office is investigating the election, working today to figure out which voting precincts ran out of ballots. Voters reported widespread ballot shortages. Mayor Dan Sullivan was reelected by a wide margin. But his main challenger Paul Honeman, is not conceding given the voting irregularities. It’s Clerk Barbara Gruenstiens 9th time running Anchorgage Municipal Elections, and she says she’s never seen anything like what happened Tuesday.
“We heard that there was somebody spreading information that you could show up at any precinct and register to vote that day and vote that day and your vote would count, and that’s incorrect information.”
In fact, you had to register 30 days before voting day to have your vote count. That somebody who spread mis-information, according to multiple reports is Jim Minnery with the anti-proposition group, “Protect Your Rights.” Minnery sent out a last minute email urging unregistered voters to swamp polling places and vote against the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. Minnery says he got bad information from the municipal clerks office.
A three-year fight over Butler County’s faulty voting machines has come to an end. The board of elections is getting 400 free electronic poll books out of the agreement as well as seven years of maintenance and available upgrades to the tune of about $1.5 million, Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Thursday.
“We wanted more and we got more,” he said.
Butler County last year rejected a state-wide settlement that the Secretary of State’s office negotiated with Premier Election Solutions for about 47 other counties that accepted software upgrades, discounted maintenance fees, cash payments and more of the same free voting equipment.
Butler County’s lawsuit with Diebold Inc. and Premier Election Systems regarding faulty voting machines has been settled with the board of elections receiving equipment and services worth $1.5 million, which Director Tom Ellis said will be a “boost in the arm for the voting experience.” The suit was over a glitch in the system during the March 2008 primary election that early caused 200 votes to go uncounted.
Provided to the county at no cost as part of the suit are 400 electronic poll books, bar scanners, signature pads, and printers supported by seven years of software and hardware maintenance. The equipment and on-going maintenance support will be provided by Election Systems & Software, Inc.
“The Butler County Board of Elections is very satisfied with the terms of the settlement and enthusiastic about the new relationship with an industry leader such as ES&S and the use of the company’s well-regarded Express 5000, electronic poll book,” Ellis said.
Ohio: Elections meeting today on Butler County Ohio Diebold/Premier voting machine lawsuit | JournalNews
Butler County’s ongoing lawsuit over its Diebold voting machines is the topic of today’s special meeting of the Butler County Board of Elections. The county is seeking $5 million in damages, which is what it paid for the electronic voting machines, following a glitch in the system during the March 2008 primary election when more than 200 votes initially went uncounted.
The board will meet at 10:30 a.m. today at the elections office, 1802 Princeton Road, then move into executive session to discuss the lawsuit with Premier Election Solutions, which purchased Diebold.
Salt Lake County may have to come up with $10 million or more to keep elections running smoothly beyond 2015. Elections Director Scott Konopasek announced Tuesday that the county’s voting machines may need to be swapped by then,meaning that the county would have to come up with the cash for about 3,000 replacements. The projected…