Challenge to Georgia’s voting machines set for trial next year

Will Georgia’s Voting System Be Secure?

A federal judge has ruled that the question of whether Georgia’s electronic voting system has major cybersecurity flaws that violate voters’ constitutional rights will be decided at trial. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued a 135-page ruling in a long-running lawsuit filed by activists who want the state to switch to hand-marked paper ballots. She set a Jan. 9 bench trial, suggesting that the two sides work together to reach a resolution. The lawsuit was filed by individual voters and the Coalition for Good Governance against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the State Election Board.

The lawsuit claims that the state’s current election system poses a threat to voters’ right to have their votes accurately counted. It led to the exposure of a breach of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county, which has resulted in criminal charges for several individuals. Since the lawsuit was first filed in 2017, Georgia has become a pivotal swing state, drawing attention to its elections. The state’s electronic voting system, purchased from Dominion Voting Systems in 2019, has been the subject of conspiracy theories and criticism.

The touchscreen voting machines used in Georgia print a paper ballot with a human-readable summary and a QR code that is read by a scanner to count the votes. Activists argue that voters can’t be certain that the barcode accurately reflects their selections, making meaningful audits impossible. University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman identified vulnerabilities in the Dominion voting machines and warned that they could be exploited by bad actors. The state has said it will not install a software update to address these vulnerabilities before the 2024 election.

Lawyers for the election officials argue that no system is without vulnerabilities and that the state takes numerous measures to protect the integrity of its system. However, Judge Totenberg emphasized that, at this stage, she must consider the facts in favor of the plaintiffs. In the upcoming trial, the plaintiffs will have a heavy burden to prove a constitutional violation connected to the voting system.

While the judge cannot order the state to implement a paper ballot system, she suggested potential policy measures that could be implemented to address the concerns. These include eliminating QR codes on ballots, using a broader scope and number of election audits, and implementing essential cybersecurity measures recommended by experts.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys hope that the upcoming trial will lead to critical relief for Georgia voters. They also hope that the judge’s ruling serves as a wake-up call for Secretary Raffensperger and the State Election Board to address the escalating risks to the state’s voting system. The defendants have not yet responded to the ruling.

The outcome of this trial will have significant implications for the future of Georgia’s voting system and may impact other states’ decisions on election security. As the nation continues to grapple with concerns about the integrity and security of its elections, the trial will shed light on the vulnerabilities and potential remedies for electronic voting systems.

Original Story at – 2023-11-13 11:49:02

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