Trial Begins in Legal Challenge to Georgia’s Election System
Opening statements are set to begin in a federal court in Atlanta on Tuesday for a long-running legal challenge to the constitutionality of Georgia’s election system. Election integrity activists argue that the system is vulnerable to attack and has operational issues that violate citizens’ right to vote and have their votes accurately counted. State election officials, on the other hand, maintain that they have implemented appropriate protective measures and that the system is reliable.
The case originated from a lawsuit filed in 2017 by election integrity activists, including individual voters and the Coalition for Good Governance, an organization advocating for election security and integrity. Initially targeting the outdated paperless voting machines used at the time, the lawsuit has since been amended to focus on the newer machines implemented statewide since 2020, manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems.
The newer system utilizes touchscreen voting machines that print ballots with a human-readable summary of voters’ selections and a QR code that is scanned to count the votes. The activists argue that the current system is no more secure or reliable than the old one and are seeking an order from U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to halt its use.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has consistently defended the system and dismissed the concerns raised by the activists as unfounded. He has even associated the plaintiffs in the lawsuit with supporters of former President Donald Trump who propagated false allegations of election fraud, including baseless claims about Dominion voting machines.
In response, the secretary of state’s office spokesperson, Mike Hassinger, stated, “Georgia’s election security practices are top-tier. Casting doubt on Georgia’s elections, which these plaintiffs and deniers are doing, is really trying to cast doubt on all elections. That is dangerous and wrong.” He expressed confidence that the office would prevail in court and elections.
Judge Totenberg, who has expressed concerns about Georgia’s election system and its implementation, acknowledged in an October order that the evidence presented in the case does not suggest that the plaintiffs are conspiracy theorists. In fact, leading cybersecurity experts and computer scientists have provided testimony and affidavits supporting the plaintiffs’ case throughout the litigation.
One of these experts, University of Michigan computer science expert J. Alex Halderman, examined a Georgia voting machine and identified vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited to alter election results. Based on Halderman’s findings, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory in June 2022, urging jurisdictions using the machines to promptly address the vulnerabilities.
Dominion Voting Systems, standing firm in the accuracy and security of its equipment, released a software update last spring to address the concerns raised. However, Raffensperger argued that the installation of the update on every voting machine would be impractical before the 2024 election cycle.
While the plaintiffs and their experts have not found evidence of manipulated elections in Georgia, they emphasize the need to address existing security flaws to prevent future harm. Their urgency increased after unauthorized individuals accessed voting equipment in a rural Georgia county elections office in January 2021 and distributed the software and data online.
The plaintiffs advocate for the use of hand-marked paper ballots tallied by scanners. Although Judge Totenberg cannot mandate a switch to a system using hand-marked paper ballots, she has the authority to order pragmatic and sound remedial policy measures. These measures may include eliminating QR codes on ballots, implementing stronger cybersecurity measures, and conducting more robust audits.
As the trial commences, the outcome will have significant implications for Georgia’s election system and the broader debate surrounding election integrity.
Original Story at www.wlky.com – 2024-01-09 16:05:00