You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Experts push paper ballot trail after alleged breach of Georgia data

A group of 20 computer scientists and security experts called on Georgia to overhaul its elections system and begin using a system with a paper audit trail, saying it would assure accuracy and public confidence following an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the group acknowledged that the breach is now under federal investigation and that much is still unknown. But, it said, potential findings “could have dire security consequences for the integrity of the technology and all elections carried out in Georgia” depending on their severity.

“While we understand that this investigation is ongoing and that it will take time for the full picture to emerge, we request that you be as forthcoming and transparent as possible regarding critical information about the breach and the investigation, as such leadership not only will be respected in Georgia but also emulated in other states where such a breach could occur,” the group said.

Most members of the group are involved with the voting-accuracy organization Verified Voting.

A spokeswoman for Kemp referred questions to federal officials and said the office was also waiting for resolution. Federal officials have had no new updates as the investigation continues.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation launched the inquiry into the suspected cyberattack two weeks ago at the request of state officials after staff discovered records kept by the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University may have been compromised.

The center has since 2002 overseen the state’s election operations and voting machines. It does that work through an agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office. It does not, however, maintain live databases or the state’s official voter registration database.

The letter came as Kemp, the state’s top elections official, will hold a nationally watched special election April 18 to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price. Preparations for that election are operating as normal, including an expectation that the state will be able to use its usual supply of “direct-recording electronic” voting machines, or DREs, known by voters for their touch screens.

The state committed to the machines in 2002 when it last overhauled its elections. At the same time, it also eliminated a paper trail of recorded votes.

At least one signer of the letter, Barbara Simons, suggested Tuesday in an interview that the state should consider replacing the machines at least on a temporary basis with paper ballots since officials don’t know whether any of the center’s systems being used to plan the special election may have been compromised.

Ultimately, however, she said the machines should be replaced permanently.

Simons, who is retired from IBM Research and was formerly president of the Association for Computing Machinery, is an electronic voting expert who has questioned the use of machines such as DREs as outdated and unsecured. She said the group was acting independently of political organizations and viewed the issue as a nonpartisan one. It reached out to Kemp, she said, to offer help moving forward.

The group suggested that Georgia conduct manual audits of election results. And it encouraged Kemp to reach out to voters eligible to cast ballots in the special election to tell them how they can confirm their information on state voter rolls. The state offers registered voters online access to do that via the Secretary of State’s Office’s website (

State Democrats earlier this week criticized Kemp for disclosing few details about the cyberattack. Other groups, including Common Cause Georgia, have also called for using paper ballots in the upcoming special election.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Immigrant felon database, Homeland Security bill passes Senate
Immigrant felon database, Homeland Security bill passes Senate

A bill that creates a database of undocumented immigrants who have committed felonies passed the Georgia Senate Tuesday. Passage of House Bill 452, which requires the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to publicly post and share personally identifying information of unauthorized immigrants who have committed certain crimes follows a back and forth shuffle...
Georgia Senate backs $200 million income tax cut, e-retailer taxes
Georgia Senate backs $200 million income tax cut, e-retailer taxes

The Georgia Senate backed legislation Tuesday that will provide a $200 million income tax cut - mostly to upper-middle and upper-income earners - and that aims to force e-retailers to collect sales taxes on what they sell. House Bill 329 passed the House as a flat, 5.4 percent income tax rate for all Georgians, down from a top rate of 6 percent. The...
Georgia Senate passes ‘campus carry’ gun bill
Georgia Senate passes ‘campus carry’ gun bill

A measure to allow guns onto any campus in Georgia’s public college and university system passed the Georgia Senate on Tuesday, a crucial vote to keep it alive in the final days of the legislative session. “Frequently, invisible lines distinguish our college and university campuses from other properties — but we should never...
After GOP health plan fails, Georgia explores Medicaid changes
After GOP health plan fails, Georgia explores Medicaid changes

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration is exploring changes to Georgia’s Medicaid program after a sweeping Republican overhaul of the Affordable Care Act was scuttled last week in a stunning rebuke to Donald Trump and Congressional leaders. The collapse of the GOP health plan has reignited debate in Georgia and other red states over whether...
Republicans escalate wars with each other in Georgia special election
Republicans escalate wars with each other in Georgia special election

There have been staff raids, social media hijinks, scornful advertisements and bitter broadsides. That’s just the start of an escalating battle between Republicans over what could be a sole spot in a runoff to represent a suburban Atlanta district. As the April 18 special election to replace Tom Price nears, the 11 Republicans in the scrambled...
More Stories