Georgians Demand More Testing of New Voting System

Voters cast ballots on Oct. 27, 2018, at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Ga., ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

(CN) – Nearly 1,500 Georgia voters say the system the state’s top election official has chosen to replace outdated digital voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential primaries was not properly vetted and could pose security risks.

On Monday, the group of over 1,450 voters submitted a petition asking Georgia’s secretary of state to reexamine the system produced by Dominion Voting Systems based on the claim that the office did not fully conduct the examination in accordance with election law and failed to address “numerous deficiencies.”  A group of 10 voters are needed to trigger a reexamination, according to the petition.

“We request that this reexamination be conducted immediately given the pending purchase of the system,” the petition states. “The system should not be purchased, leased or used in pilot elections until the reexamination is satisfactorily completed in compliance with the Election Code.”

On July 29, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperge  announced he selected the verified paper ballot system produced by Dominion Voting Systems in an effort to boost the security of the state’s elections. His office hopes to have voters using the new system during the March 24 primary election.

Dominion’s system prints a voter’s selections onto paper that includes a barcode. That paper is fed into a scanner which reads the barcode and records the vote.

“It should go without saying that requiring a voter to cast votes recorded in the form of a barcode that she cannot read, interpret or verify directly undermines the state’s decision to adopt a voting system that includes a verifiable ballot,” the petition states.

The petition argues Georgia violated procedure by not having a certification agent complete testing of the system and instead used a lab in Alabama.

The petition comes on the heels of a federal judge’s order last week telling the state to retire the voting system it currently uses, which is a digital system with no paper ballots.

After U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg delivered the order, attorneys in the case asked to file an amended lawsuit. The proposed amended complaint says voting system examiners in Texas rejected Dominion’s system in February in part because power cords could easily become unplugged and the way the system stored the audit trail could lead to someone figuring out how an individual had voted.

Hackers at this year’s DEFCON Voting Village probed the Dominion precinct scanners and discovered 20 vulnerabilities, such as the susceptibility of the machines to a DNS attack, according to the proposed amended complaint.

Secretary of State Raffensperger said the petition was based on false allegations. Before the state examined the Dominion system, he said it was first federally certified.

“State certification was just completed, and it was a re-examination to confirm the accuracy of the federal certification,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “At the end of the day, the complaints are raised by activists who want the implementation of Georgia’s new voting system to fail.”

Hayley McCloud, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, said in an email the office will respond to the petition as required by law and reexamine the system.

Groups concerned with election security such as Coalition for Good Governance and the Georgia Advancing Progress PAC helped organize the petition. Chairs of two minor political parties, the Constitution Party of Georgia and the Libertarian Party of Georgia, also backed the petition.

Many of the groups support a return to hand-marked paper ballots.

In January, the Libertarian Party of Georgia passed a resolution in support of paper ballots. The party continues to demand secure elections, according to an email by party chair Ryan Graham.

“The Secretary of State has a tendency to diminish the concerns around voting integrity as can be seen in that office’s defense in the court cases being heard currently,” he wrote.

Cam Ashling, chair of the Georgia Advancing Progress PAC, said in an interview that organizations like hers have served as watchdogs while the secretary of state has attempted to implement the new voting law the state created this year. The office has been cutting corners in the implementation, she said.

Ashling added Georgia is turning into a battleground state at a time when voting activists feel “we are back to square one” when it comes to battling sophisticated voting suppression tactics.

“The new voter suppression game is going to be invisible,” Ashling said. “It’s just going to be through the machines.”

Dominion Voting Systems did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

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