County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276
registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May.
670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of
state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout.
discrepancy, included in a number of sworn statements and exhibits
filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election
security activists, comes amid swelling public concern for the
security of Georgia’s voting systems. Georgia is one of four
states that uses voting machines statewide that produce no paper
record for voters to verify, making them difficult to audit,
cybersecurity experts have warned that there were security flaws
on the state election website leading up to the 2016 contest that
permitted the download and manipulation of voter information.
court filings highlight various issues with Georgia’s 16-year-old
voting machines, as well as the system that runs them and handles
voter registration information.
one sworn statement, a voter explains that she and her husband,
who were registered to vote at the same address, were assigned
different polling places and different city council districts. In
another, a voting machine froze on Election Day.
several instances, voters showed up at their polling places as
listed on the secretary of state’s website, only to be told they
were supposed to vote elsewhere.
Atlanta Democrat’s voting machine provided him a ballot including
the 5th Congressional District, for which longtime Rep. John Lewis
ran unopposed, instead of his 6th Congressional District ballot,
which featured a competitive Democratic race.
issues, like the freezing machines, could be chalked up to the the
age of the polling infrastructure, said Harri Hursti, a computer programmer who
studies election cybersecurity.
others, like the incorrect ballots, could have been caused by
anything from a clerical error to a malicious manipulation of
voter data, said Hursti, who is also the organizer for the Voting
Village at hacking conference DEF CON, where participants
demonstrate hacking into some state voting machines.
possible that there’s a connection between the security issues
reported at Georgia’s Center for Election Systems and the issues
chronicled in the court statements, but an immediate switch to
paper ballots is necessary regardless, Hursti said.
the connection is not needed,” he said. “You don’t need to have a
smoking gun to do the right thing.”
a statement, the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp
defended the security of state elections.
federal, local, and private sector partners, we continue to fight
every day to ensure secure and accurate elections in Georgia that
are free from interference. To this day, due to the vigilance,
dedication, and hard work of those partners, our elections system
and voting equipment remain secure,” spokeswoman Candice Broce
wrote in an email.
has set up a bipartisan commission to look into changing state
voting machines ahead of the 2020 elections, but not in time for
the midterm elections this November.
Marks, the executive director of the Coalition for Good
Government, which has led the charge against the state’s
management of the election system, said the statements filed in
federal court are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to
are submitting only a small sample from scores of known system
malfunctions and irregularities,” she wrote in an email. “But
those examples should raise alarms with officials, political
parties, candidates and voters. Something is terribly wrong at a
systemic level, and is not being taken seriously by Secretary
Kemp, or the state and counties’ election boards charged with
conducting secure elections.”
court statements are the latest additions to the growing list of
concerns surrounding Georgia’s election security.
July, Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment indicated
that Russian operatives charged with hacking into Democrats’
emails also visited county election websites in Georgia, among
State University’s Center for Election Systems, which was
responsible for running Georgia’s elections, was proven vulnerable
by friendly cybersecurity experts both before and after the 2016
information and other important data, which gets disseminated to
polling places in Georgia’s 159 counties, was open to the public
and could have been manipulated by bad actors, charged Logan Lamb,
the first friendly hacker to notify the state of the issue. He
sent that notification in August 2016, but the problem was not
fully solved until March 2017.
Clark, who will be on the ballot for Georgia’s House of
Representatives in November, spent an extra half hour at her
polling place on July 24. If she didn’t have that spare time, she
may not have been able to vote at all, she said in her statement.
Clark arrived at about 7:50 that morning, elections officials told
her she’d gone to the wrong polling place, even though she hadn’t
changed her registration information since 2016.
she was told 25 minutes later that her name had appeared on the
electronic poll book for that voting location, and she was able to
cast her ballot.
other people I met that day who were turned away, I had the
flexibility to stay to fight for my right to vote in the right
precinct on the correct ballot,” she said in her statement.
voter Dana Bowers experienced a similar problem. She was told,
“Don’t worry Ms. Bowers, this has been happening all day,”
according to her sworn declaration.
who works as an advocacy coordinator in Josh McCall’s campaign for
the 9th Congressional District, had checked her “My Voter Page” on
the secretary of state’s office website before heading to the
polls in July and found she’d been assigned a new precinct —
when she arrived at what she thought was her new polling place,
she was told she was still assigned her original polling place in
precinct 96. She wound up filling out a provisional ballot that
day. When she checked her “My Voter Page” after the election, she
wrote in her statement, she was assigned to precinct 96 once more.
statements chronicled issues with the voting machines themselves.
for example, noticed that a machine was marked “Do Not Touch,”
when she went to vote in July. One poll worker told her votes had
been cast on the machine prior to its failure on Election Day.
the polls closed, Bowser noticed the results tape from the machine
showed it hadn’t collected any votes.
statements also indicated that the race in the 9th Congressional
District were omitted from a results tape in one precinct of Hall
County Elections Director Lori Wurtz later said there had been “no
discrepancies” with the results.