From [HERE] and [HERE] Judge Amy Totenberg of the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that Georgia will be permitted to go forward with the use of its electronic voting machines, despite security warnings from voting technology experts.
The ruling comes in a 2017 lawsuit filed by Georgia voters and election security organizations who argued that the current machines used in Georgia, called direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, were untrustworthy, insecure, and vulnerable to “malicious intrusion and manipulation of the system and voter data by nation states and cyber savvy individuals.”
There's a broad consensus among cybersecurity experts that such machines are vulnerable to potential hacks. If hackers manipulate vote totals, or another error occurs, there's no backup.
Georgia has 27,000 voting machines spread around 159 counties. At the time of the 2016 election, 5.4 million people were registered to vote in the state.
A few Georgia voters and election security advocates originally filed a lawsuit in 2017 over the state's election security. The lawsuit names Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a candidate for governor, along with the state board of elections, and Fulton County in metro Atlanta.
Kemp, who is white, faces Democrat Stacey Abrams, a Black woman, in the Georgia race for governor.
"With this ruling behind us," Kemp said in a written statement Tuesday morning, "we will continue our preparations for a secure, orderly election in November."
Totenberg found that the plaintiffs had presented sufficient evidence that their votes cast on the DRE machines may be “altered, diluted, or effectively not counted on the same terms as someone using another voting method” but that “the eleventh-hour timing of their motions and an instant grant of the paper ballot relief requested could just as readily jeopardize the upcoming elections, voter turnout, and the orderly administration of the election.
Totenberg allowed Georgia to continue to use the machines due to time constraints and concerns of “voter frustration and disaffection” so close to the November election but urged the state to be prepared for 2020.
“Defendants will fail to address that reality if they demean as paranoia the research-based findings of national cybersecurity engineers and experts in the field of elections…The 2020 elections are around the corner,” wrote Totenberg.
Totenberg is a racist suspect who was appointed by Obama.
Georgia is one of 14 states [NPR report] that use these machines that lacking a paper trail for voter verification.
An NPR/Marist poll this week found that 56 percent of Americans believe electronic voting machines make elections less safe and 68 percent thought paper ballots made elections more secure.
In 2010, when African Americans in Brooks county organized a massive voter turnout drive and elected the first majority-black school board in its history, the secretary of state, Brian Kemp, had a dozen African American activists and school board members arrested and, over the course of a long grueling four-year period, dragged through the courts. Although, in the end, there were zero convictions for voter fraud, there was a chilling effect as lives were ruined, jobs lost, and a hard lesson on the costs of voting made abundantly clear.
Then, in 2014, Kemp put his crosshairs on the New Georgia Voter Project, an organization determined to register some of the 700,000 African Americans in the state who were not yet on the voter rolls. When the group signed up more than 100,000 to vote, Kemp immediately took to the airwaves insisting: “We’re just not going to put up with fraud.” That claim, spoken often and wrongly by Republican stalwarts from Kris Kobach to Donald Trump, is the lie used to justify voter suppression techniques. Yet, as the law professor Justin Levitt has documented, between 2000 and 2014, there have only been 31 cases of voter identification fraud out of one billion votes. Kemp, in his own way, acknowledged the lie when, behind closed doors, he explained to a group of fellow Republicans: “Democrats are working hard ... registering all these minority voters ... If they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” He, therefore, used the power of his office to launch a very public multi-year investigation that would, once again, aim to intimidate and dissuade African Americans from registering to vote.
In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by 7%. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy. [MORE]
With the 2018 midterm elections less than two months away, voting has been a highly contested issue in federal courts across the country. Just this month courts have heard a number of issues regarding both elections security and pertaining to voting methods in general. On the same day as Totenberg’s ruling, a district judge in Texas dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging Texas’ voter ID law, in light of the Fifth Circuit Court’s April ruling upholding the law as constitutional. In Arizona last week, the Ninth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that Arizona ballot collection laws were Constitutional—the election practice at issue was Arizona’s requirement for people who cast votes in-person to do so in the precinct they were assigned. On September 7 a judge in a Florida district court ordered [JURIST report] 32 Florida counties to provide sample Spanish language ballots in order to help Spanish-speaking citizens vote. President Donald Trump issued an executive order [JURIST report] on September 12 directing federal agencies to investigate instances of interference with US elections and to take measures against those involved.