From [HERE] A ruling by a federal appeals court in Atlanta clears the way for two lawsuits challenging Georgia's use of paperless electronic voting machines to move forward.
The lawsuits, filed by Georgia voters and an election integrity group, seek to bar Georgia from using the machines in future elections. In an opinion Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits of the case but rejected arguments that state officials have immunity from the suits.
The lawsuits argue 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 in motions filed in August to force the state to use paper ballots in the November midterm election.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg in September denied those requests, saying she worried it would be too chaotic or problematic to make the switch so close to the election. But she found that the Georgia voters and election integrity advocates who filed the suits had demonstrated "the threat of real harms to their constitutional interests."
Most importantly and beyond said midterm elections the plaintiffs are seeking declaratory relief and an injunction against enforcing this election system in future elections.
Plaintiffs are Georgia voters and a coalition group focused on secure elections. Essentially, Plaintiffs complained that Georgia’s election system creates an unacceptable risk that voters’ ballots will not be counted because hackers will intercept or modify them. More specifically, the State Election Board administers its Election Rule 183–1–12–.01, which requires voters to use electronic voting machines when casting ballots in person. In accordance with that rule, Georgia employs approximately 27,000 Direct Record Electronic (“DRE”) machines every Election Day. By contrast, the Georgia Election Code permits those who vote by mail to do so by paper ballot. Plaintiffs alleged that some experts have warned that DRE machines have “critical” vulnerabilities that make them more susceptible to hacking than other voting systems. One of those alleged vulnerabilities is that DRE machines do not produce a paper trail, which makes detecting hacking difficult. Additionally, Plaintiffs asserted that officials exacerbated security risks by leaving unsecured aspects of the state’s election infrastructure, such as a server that housed voter data.
Based upon those allegations, Plaintiffs brought state claims and two federal claims: (1) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process by impinging on Plaintiffs’ voting rights and (2) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, based on the theory that Defendants treat those who vote in person differently than those who vote by mail because those who vote by mail can vote by paper ballot. Plaintiffs sought a court order declaring that Defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment and an injunction prohibiting Defendants from using DREs. [MORE]
Totenberg also declined to dismiss claims against the Georgia secretary of state and state election board members, and the state appealed that rejection to the 11th Circuit, which was denied.