State Watch

Judge rules Georgia can keep using electronic voting machines despite hacking concerns

A federal judge on Monday ruled that Georgia can continue to use its electronic voting machines despite concerns that they may easily be hacked, according to local outlet The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that forcing Georgia to use paper ballots over voting machines in the upcoming elections would create chaos and confusion, CBS reported

She wrote that she would have concerns about "voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process" if the state switched to paper ballots weeks before the election.

"There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion and long lines to sour a citizen," Totenberg wrote, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Totenberg's ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition in Georgia that claimed Georgia's election security would improve if the state adopted paper ballots for the November elections. The Coalition for Good Governance expressed concern that the electronic voting machines are vulnerable to hacking.

Researchers recently identified a breach that allegedly left 6 million Georgia voters' records exposed, and special counsel Robert Mueller in an indictment earlier this year said Russian intelligence officers had visited Georgia county websites to "identify vulnerabilities."

"The defendants failed to make any efforts to prepare for secure November elections," one of the members of the coalition, plaintiff Marilyn Marks, told the Journal-Constitution after the ruling. "Although the concerns of a transition to paper ballots are exaggerated, the defendants can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of Election Day chaos and voter disenfranchisement."

Most states in the U.S. use paper ballots, which are easier to check for accuracy.

Early voting in Georgia begins Oct. 15 for the November election, which features the governor's race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. 

Questions about voting machines and possible hacking have increased since the 2016 presidential election when Russia interfered with disinformation cyber campaigns and "successfully penetrated" the voter rolls in 21 states.

There is no evidence that those voter rolls were altered.

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