Computer experts urge Georgia to replace voting machines

Sep 8, 2022, 4:35 PM | Updated: Sep 9, 2022, 7:13 am
CORRECTS DATE TO JAN. 7, 2021. NOT JAN. 19 In this Jan. 7, 2021 image taken from Coffee County, Ga....

CORRECTS DATE TO JAN. 7, 2021. NOT JAN. 19 In this Jan. 7, 2021 image taken from Coffee County, Ga., security video, Cathy Latham, bottom, who was the chair of the Coffee County Republican Party at the time, greets a team of computer experts from data solutions company SullivanStrickler at the county elections office in Douglas, Ga. Records show that the team traveled to the rural south Georgia county to copy software and data from elections equipment. The Georgia secretary of state's office has said the visit was an "alleged unauthorized access" of election equipment. (Coffee County via AP)

(Coffee County via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — A group of computer and election security experts is urging Georgia election officials to replace the state’s touchscreen voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots ahead of the November midterm elections, citing what they say are “serious threats” posed by an apparent breach of voting equipment in one county.

The 13 experts on Thursday sent a letter to the members of the State Election Board and to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who’s a non-voting member of the board. It urges them to immediately stop using the state’s Dominion Voting Systems touchscreen voting machines. It also suggests they mandate a particular type of post-election audit on the outcome of all races on the ballot.

The experts who sent the letter include academics and former state election officials and are not associated with efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The midterm elections are just two months away. A switch to hand-marked paper ballots could easily be made by then because state law already provides for them to be used as an emergency backup, the letter says.

State Election Board Chair William Duffey responded in an email to The Associated Press that the “security of our election equipment is of paramount interest to the State Election Board as is the integrity of the election process in Georgia.” He noted that the alleged breach in Coffee County is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and secretary of state’s office investigators and said the FBI has been asked to assist.

“The investigation is active and ongoing,” Duffey wrote. “Information developed will be considered to evaluate the impact of the Coffee County conduct.”

Raffensperger’s office has repeatedly said that Georgia’s elections remain secure because of varied security mechanisms in place. Spokesperson Mike Hassinger said in an email that the office will respond “in due time with due care” and that the response will be “addressed directly to the authors, rather than leaked to the media to obtain some sort of rhetorical advantage.”

The apparent unauthorized copying of election equipment in Coffee County happened in January 2021. It is documented in emails, security camera footage and other records produced in response to subpoenas in a long-running lawsuit that argues Georgia’s voting machines are vulnerable and should be replaced by hand-marked paper ballots.

Those records show that a computer forensics team traveled to the rural county about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta on Jan. 7, 2021, to forensically copy voting equipment. Emails show that Sidney Powell and other Trump-allied attorneys were involved in arranging for the visit.

The security video also shows that Doug Logan and Jeff Lenberg, who were involved in broader efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results, visited the office later that month.

The experts who sent the letter Thursday have long criticized Georgia’s voting machines, which print a paper ballot that includes a human-readable summary of the voter’s selections and a barcode that is read by a scanner to tally the votes. They argue the machines already made elections more vulnerable to tampering because voters cannot read the barcode to verify that it accurately reflects their selections.

But the copying and sharing of election data and software from Coffee County “increases both the risk of undetected cyber-attacks on Georgia, and the risk of accusations of fraud and election manipulation,” the letter says.

The expert letter also cites work by University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman, who serves as an expert witness in the long-running voting machines lawsuit. He has identified what he says are security vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voting machines. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in June issued an advisory based on Halderman’s findings.

In addition to urging a switch to hand-marked paper ballots, the experts say a statewide post-election, risk-limiting audit should be done on all of the races on the ballot. A risk-limiting audit essentially uses a statistical approach to ensure that the reported results match the actual votes cast. Current rules require only one statewide contest to be audited.

At least some of the experts who signed the letter sent to the Georgia State Election Board last year sent a similar letter to California’s secretary of state ahead of a recall election for the state’s governor urging a rigorous audit of that contest. The secretary of state did not act on the recommendations.


Associated Press writer Christina A. Cassidy contributed reporting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Washington kills 2 wolves to prevent preying on cattle

Biologists working for Washington have killed two members of the Leadpoint wolf pack this week in an effort to stop the pack from preying on cattle
16 hours ago
FILE - A gasoline price board is displayed at a gas station in San Francisco, Tuesday, July 19, 202...
Associated Press

Newsom relaxes refinery rules as California gas prices soar

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that oil refineries could start selling more polluting winter-blend gasoline ahead of schedule to ease soaring fuel prices, directly contradicting his own goals for reducing climate emissions. The average cost of a gallon of gas was $6.30 in California on Friday, far above the […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-president of Kentucky college files lawsuit over firing

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The former president of a small Kentucky college who was fired after allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct involving employees has filed a lawsuit against the school claiming defamation and breach of contract. William A. Jones, who was fired in November as president of Georgetown College, denies any sexual misconduct […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

US defense chief in Hawaii amid distrust after fuel spill

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Hawaii this week amid lingering community frustration and distrust after jet fuel from a military storage facility last year spilled into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water, poisoned thousands of military families and threatened the purity of Honolulu’s water supply. Austin was in Hawaii to meet with his […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Iowa high school shooting defendant takes plea deal

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of the 10 teenagers charged with murder in a drive-by shooting death of a 15-year-old boy outside a downtown Des Moines high school in March has entered a plea deal with prosecutors and a second is considering a plea. Court documents said Manuel Buezo, 17, entered the guilty plea […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

In Your Debt: 3 steps to lower the cost of your debt

Does the thought of dealing with your debt make you want to go back to bed? More than 1 in 5 Americans (22%) are likely to put off creating a debt payoff plan, according to a June 2022 survey from NerdWallet conducted online by The Harris Poll. That’s a lot of procrastination, and it’s no […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Computer experts urge Georgia to replace voting machines