Group files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots

Group files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots
© Moriah Ratner

A coalition in Georgia is filing a lawsuit to force the state to adopt paper ballots in the upcoming midterm elections, a move it claims will improve election security.

The Coalition for Good Governance is alleging in a federal lawsuit that Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, Georgia's current secretary of state, failed to adequately safeguard the state's voting system from a breach that allegedly left 6 million Georgia voters' records exposed, CNN reported

The group is claiming Georgia is one of the only states left that does not use a paper ballot, which makes it harder to verify election results. 

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"All we are asking for is a fair election that is verifiable," Marilyn Marks from the Coalition for Good Governance told local NBC affiliate WSAV. "We are asking that if something goes wrong that the ballots can be recounted, they can be audited." 

The lawsuit describes how easily a private researcher discovered the voting records of more than 6 million registered Georgia residents, CNN reported. The researcher Logan Lamb reportedly discovered the information on a Kennesaw State University website, which had been commissioned by Kemp's office to run Georgia's voting system.

"The data was open to anyone in the world who had an internet connection," Marks told CNN. "Even when confronted with a security disaster, [Kemp's] response was to blame managers under his supervision for their incompetence and leave the security disaster without so much as a forensic review of the impacts of the security failures."

Kemp has denied the state has issues with securing its election systems. He said the lawsuit's demands are unreasonable a few months before the November election.

"The chaos of switching to a completely different voting system this close to an election would cause inconvenience, voter confusion, and potentially suppressed turn-out," Kemp said, according to WSAV. "Georgians should know that their votes count because our voting equipment remains accurate and secure. The hysteria of some people seeking to force Georgia to switch to an all paper ballot system is based on misinformation, and making this change would spend money to create problems that we should avoid."

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE in a recent indictment said Russian intelligence officers visited Georgia county websites to "identify vulnerabilities," though Kemp has noted there is no evidence of them breaching the systems. 

"The hysteria of some people seeking to force Georgia to switch to an all paper ballot system is based on misinformation, and making this change would spend money to create problems that we should avoid," Kemp told CNN.

Marks insists Kemp's office has long neglected implementing security measures for Georgia's voters. 

The coalition is not alone in its calls to eradicate paperless voting systems. Democrats in June introduced a bill aimed at improving election security in the U.S. by requiring states to use voter-verified paper ballots.

“For Americans to have confidence that their votes count, and that election results are free and fair, there absolutely have to be paper ballots and mandatory audits for each and every federal election,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGoogle says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers Wyden says foreign hackers targeted personal accounts of senators, staffers Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (D-Ore.), the bill's lead sponsor, said at the time.