Next Story

Democrats take aim at Gwinnett-based 7th Congressional District

Lawsuit seeks to void 6th District runoff over aging voting system


Karen Handel’s win in the hotly contested 6th Congressional District special election should be thrown out and the contest redone, according to a new lawsuit seeking to ultimately invalidate Georgia’s aging electronic voting system.

The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, is the second pursued in less than two months by a Colorado-based group over the security of Georgia’s election infrastructure.

The suit says those concerns include private cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb’s finding last year that a misconfigured server at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems — which has helped run Georgia’s elections for the past 15 years — exposed more than 6.5 million voter records and other sensitive information that opponents said could be used to alter results.

The same records were accessed a second time earlier this year by another security researcher. The FBI investigated both Lamb’s and the second researcher’s probing but did not file charges, saying neither of the two had broken federal law.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office declined to comment Wednesday because it had not yet seen the suit. Named as defendants in the suit are Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and numerous election officials from Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties — all of which have communities that fall within the 6th District’s boundaries.

Marilyn Marks, who as executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance brought the suit with several Georgia voters, said the incidents at the center show Georgia’s system is “completely vulnerable and unreliable and should not have been used for this election.”

The effort dovetails with a push by national voting advocates for Georgia to commit to new election systems with the capability of producing a paper audit trail — something the state does not currently have.

The group, in the suit, is asking that results from the June 20 runoff in the 6th District be voided, that the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines not be used in the next election and that Kemp be required to promptly re-examine the system. Such a technical review would check for cyber penetration and add preventive measures to protect against both malicious attacks and unintended problems.

A Fulton judge in June dismissed a lawsuit by the same group — formerly called the Rocky Mountain Foundation — that tried to force the use of paper ballots in the 6th District runoff. The ruling cited the state’s sovereign immunity law, which says the state is immune from lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of statutes passed by the General Assembly.

Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams also cited an “absence of evidence” that the machines had widely malfunctioned or skewed results.

The suit this week also acknowledges “it is presently unknown if any party interfered with Georgia’s elections in 2016 or 2017.”

There is no evidence that the state’s system has been compromised. Georgia experienced no major problems during last year’s presidential election or during the 6th District special election. State election officials have also said Georgia’s voting systems were not affected by the hacking attempts detailed last month in a top-secret federal government report about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The issue, however, remains a national topic, most recently with requests for voter data by President Donald Trump’s commission on election integrity. Trump formed the commission in May to investigate alleged acts of voter fraud after he made unsubstantiated claims of “millions” of illegal votes being cast during last year’s presidential election.

Election experts across the country have said there is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud.

Georgia uses touch-screen direct-recording electronic voting machines, or DREs. The state committed to the machines in 2002 when it last overhauled its elections system. At the same time, it eliminated a paper trail of recorded votes.

Cybersecurity experts who testified at a hearing in the first suit said one way Georgia could mitigate concerns about the machines is by having some sort of paper trail that voters could verify as being correct. State officials are also considering alternatives to the Kennesaw elections center.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race
Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race

After years of mainly investigating issues raised by Georgians, the state’s ethics watchdog agency plans to get proactive and audit campaign filings from all of the major statewide races coming up. Stefan Ritter, the executive secretary of the ethics commission, said while some details still have to be worked out, but that will mean auditing...
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy

A roundup of editorials Friday looks at the idea that kicking North Korea out of the UN would go a long way toward helping the current situation, and that having President Donald Trump negotiate instead of threaten would be the best move to make.  Here are some opinions from the Right. From The Wall Street Journal: If the world community is serious...
What the Left is saying about the North Korean threat
What the Left is saying about the North Korean threat

A roundup of editorials Friday includes a suggestion on bringing the North Korean conflict under control, the irrationality of Donald Trump’s policy toward Pyongyang and the idea that pressuring China will help ease tensions. Here are some opinions from the Left. Newsday: If China is going to continue to shore up North Korea, they should expect...
The Right reacts to Graham-Cassidy
The Right reacts to Graham-Cassidy

A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal. Will the bill strike the right balance between the federal government’s role in health care and what states will be expected to do? Here are some opinions from the Right. From Roll Call: The problem with the Graham-Cassidy plan is lack of momentum. A majority...
The Left slams Graham-Cassidy health care bill
The Left slams Graham-Cassidy health care bill

A roundup of editorials Thursday takes a look at the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal. Despite a heavy agenda, the bill is likely to come up on the Senate floor next week. Here are some opinions from the Left. 1. Cassidy-Graham is attractive in theory. But it has a giant flaw. From The Washington Post: An experiment in democracy is interesting...
More Stories