Local officials dispute state’s voting system

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

Three City of Madison officials have signed a petition designed to enhance election security and voter verification. Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, Councilman Eric Joyce and Councilwoman Chris Hodges joined over 1,450 Georgians on a petition demanding the reexamination of Georgia’s new $100 million voting system. 

“Everybody wants fair elections,” said Perriman of his decision to sign the petition. “We just want to make sure everything is as fair as possible, that every vote is counted correctly, and that our elections are secure. 

“I think the importance of a secure voting system is paramount to the proper functioning of our democracy,” said Joyce. “I think we definitely need some kind of paper trail attached to our votes. The new system may be an improvement, but I do not believe it’s quite strong enough to overcome the threats posed to our elections today.”

“I want to make sure we have fair and accurate elections,” said Hodges.  “We have to make sure each vote counts and this petition supports those efforts.”

According to the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that focuses on election transparency and verifiability, Georgia voters from over 100 counties are requesting a “mandatory reexamination” of the new Dominion Voting System recently selected by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 

“The contract for the new voting system was announced on July 29, 2019, and certified by Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger on August 9.  According to the petition, the voting system fails to meet the requirements of Georgia Voting System Certification Rule 590-8-1-.01, and fails to comply with the Georgia Election Code,” explained Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. “According to Georgia law, the Secretary of State is required to re-examine the machines upon proper request from ten or more citizens.” 

The Coalition for Good Governance, which has advocated for a paper ballot voting system, believes electronic voting systems are irreparably vulnerable to tampering and ultimately unverifiable. 

“The new barcode balloting voting system is fundamentally flawed, cannot meet Georgia’s Election Code and violates voting protections of the US Constitution,” said Marks. “Voters will no longer tolerate unauditable electronic voting systems in Georgia, and are taking back control of their elections through actions like this petition that officials cannot ignore.”

“It appears the Secretary of State cut some corners to rush the certification of a new voting system,” said Susan Greenhalgh, Vice President of Policy and Programs for the National Election Defense Coalition. “For years the Georgia Secretaries of State have ignored the calls for secure, auditable elections provided by paper ballots. The new $100 million voting system was rushed through certification and still fails to provide voters with a trustworthy, auditable voting systems.”  

The coalition has cited six complaints against the new electronic voting system. 

“ Secretary Raffensberger failed to follow Georgia Election Code requirements for certifying the system. The Code requires that the Secretary of State base his certification decision on the report of the designated Georgia Certification Agent who is to compile a report on security testing, functionality testing, and evaluation of compliance with Georgia laws. No such agent was appointed and the required analysis was not prepared. Instead, Secretary Raffensberger unilaterally certified the Dominion System based solely on a functional test report,” alleges Marks. “ Georgia law requires the official ballot to be human readable. The new system prints a barcode on the ballot summary card, and the scanner reads that barcode to generate vote tallies. Humans cannot read barcodes, and cannot know for whom they are voting when choices are embedded in barcodes. The system cannot comply with Georgia law requiring human readable ballots for counting.” 

The petition claims the new voting system violates Georgia law because election results can not be property audited and the system violates “secret ballot protections.” 

“The Dominion Voting System cannot produce auditable results, according to the nation’s top cybersecurity experts and election auditing experts,” said Marks.  “ The Dominion Voting System scanner records timestamps on each electronic ballot violating the secret ballot protections in Georgia law. Insiders with access to the encryption codes can match a voter with her ballot. Such scanners cannot be permitted to operate in Georgia’s elections.”

The Coalition also believes the new voting system may disenfranchise certain voters and improper technical standards were employed to adopt the new system. 

 “Secretary Raffensberger did not certify the electronic pollbook components of the Dominion system which directly impacts who votes and which ballot the voters receive,” said Marks. “ The wrong technical standards were used for the system testing. The Georgia Election Code requires that the voting system be certified under 2002 standards, and the Dominion Voting System is certified under 2005 standards. Voting systems may not be used in Georgia until they are legally certified after undergoing a specified evaluation spelled out in the Georgia Election Code. Voters signing the letter for reexamination insist that the Secretary thoroughly examine the security of the system and its failure to comply with Georgia law.”

Jeanne Dufort, a member of the Morgan County Democrats and petition organizer, points out that the Dominion Voting System has already been rejected in other parts of the country.

“A candid and professional examination will determine that the system is not fit for Georgia’s public elections. Indeed, Texas evaluated the Dominion system, and its six professional examiners unanimously rejected it as subpar for Texas elections. If it’s not good enough for Texas voters, why should Georgia taxpayers spend $100M on it?” asked Dufort. 

“Georgia voters are clearly sick and tired of their Secretary of State’s Office putting their votes at risk by purchasing and certifying more machines that fail the legal standard for safe and secured elections,” said Cam T. Ashling, Chairman of Georgia Advancing Progress PAC. “We can do better than this and must to protect everybody’s Constitutional right to vote in this democracy we all cherish.”

Petition organizers cited recent court proceedings that suggest state leaders’ murky relationship with election security. 

“Based on past performance as evidenced by recent testimony and Judge Totenberg’s opinion, there is little reason to believe that the Secretary of State has performed a good-faith evaluation of the Dominion voting system” stated Smythe DuVal, Executive Committee member of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. “The LPGA supports this effort to bring a transparent and honest evaluation process of any future Georgia voting systems that includes a robust cybersecurity risk assessment. This is a no-brainer, we must build voting systems that can be audited and verified in order to build and maintain public trust. We urge other political parties to join us in advocating for a reassessment.” DuVal was the  2018 Libertarian Party candidate for Secretary of State. 

The Constitution Party of Georgia, a co-sponsor of the petition, urged Secretary Raffensperger to diligently and candidly evaluate the security weaknesses in the Dominon barcode balloting system. Chairman Ricardo Davis said, “Our party platform calls for verifiable, auditable election processes and procedures.  Rushing to spend $107 million on a voting system known to be insecure and faulty flies in the face of the Secretary’s claims to value fiscal conservativism, election security, and the integrity of how the State of Georgia conducts its elections.” 

Aileen Nakamura of Sandy Springs who helped organize the petition noted the fact that over 1,450 Georgia voters from 100 counties signed the petition in a two day period. “Georgia’s elected officials must listen to the voters, who desperately want to make sure their votes will count. With cybersecurity issues at the forefront of national news, putting a computer between you and your vote is a terrible choice. Handmarked Paper Ballots are the gold standard according to every cybersecurity and election integrity expert – why doesn’t Georgia save over $70 million by switching to safe and secure technology that won’t go obsolete?”

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is currently reviewing the petition. 

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