Bookman: Courts forced to clean up Georgia’s elections mess

Legislation lawmakers passed last session significantly updates the state’s election infrastructure from that used in 2018 when voters lined up at Atlanta's Grady High School precinct to cast ballots. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Back in 2017, when Gov. Brian Kemp was still Georgia’s secretary of state and responsible for running fair elections and protecting our right to vote, he haughtily dismissed criticism that the state’s elections systems were vulnerable to hacking and might bar legal residents from voting.

Such questions, he wrote in USA Today, are “baseless and inaccurate.” They reflect “a complete misunderstanding of voting systems and what safeguards are in place to keep them secure.” Calls for federal oversight or assistance, he said, are “simply a big government power grab.”

“Misinformation from the media or disgruntled partisans not only fuels conspiracy theorists,” Kemp warned, “but also erodes the first safeguard we have in our elections — the public’s trust.”

With all that settled, Kemp then marched off to resume fighting what he considered the “real” dragon, devoting his time, energy and state resources to fighting a “voter fraud” problem that no Republican in this state or any other state has ever proved exists.

Meanwhile, back in real life, lawsuits filed in federal court began to uncover very real, very serious problems with the election-security system that Kemp had defended so ardently.

Documents and expert testimony painted a picture of an election bureaucracy that ignored fundamental security risks, that did nothing when those risks were pointed out by others, that lied repeatedly to cover up its failures. When the court demanded preservation of computer files that might demonstrate such incompetence, state officials instead destroyed them, later claiming the destruction was inadvertent.

In the ominous words of U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, the claim that the files “were not intentionally destroyed or wiped is flatly not credible.”

State officials “have previously minimized, erased, or dodged the issues underlying this case,” Totenberg wrote in a recent order, blasting their “blithe blindness” to “a catalogue of pervasive voting problems.”

Overall, she wrote, “the totality of evidence in this case reveals that the secretary of state’s efforts in monitoring the security of its voting systems have been lax at best – a clear indication that Georgia’s computerized election system is vulnerable in actual use.”

She also found substantial evidence that flaws and breakdowns in the state system had prevented significant numbers of Georgia voters from legally casting the votes that they are constitutionally permitted to cast.

Against all this, state officials have mounted little effective defense. They’ve been caught red-handed, and they know it. Their fallback position has been to claim that the lawsuits and court orders have all been unnecessary and that they intended to fix these problems all along, pointing to legislation passed last session to significantly update the state’s election infrastructure.

However, if Kemp and others had their way, that legislation never would have passed and these problems would still be occurring. In fact, there’s still significant doubt that the state’s new system actually addresses the faults laid out in court so convincingly. Either way, while Georgia officials were spending millions of dollars building a voter ID system to fix a problem that does not exist, they paid little or no attention to actual problems that compromised the integrity of the electoral system that they claim to want to protect.

And while Kemp had earlier dismissed the necessity of federal oversight or involvement in Georgia’s election system, dismissing it as “fake news,” it should not go unnoticed that it has taken a federal judge to uncover all this and demand fixes, because state officials just didn’t seem to care much.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Kemp flat-out stole the 2018 governor’s race in broad daylight, and I and many others were calling him out in real time. He belongs in federal prison under 18 USC 241 for sure, and probably under other statutes as well.

  2. Can anyone doubt that racism is alive and well in Georgia? However, its days are numbered as more Georgians are made aware of its basic injustice and inhumanity to citizens of color.

  3. She also found substantial evidence that flaws and breakdowns in the state system had prevented significant numbers of Georgia voters from legally casting the votes that they are constitutionally permitted to cast.

    That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  4. “Misinformation from the media or disgruntled partisans not only fuels conspiracy theorists,” Kemp warned, “but also erodes the first safeguard we have in our elections — the public’s trust.”

    Oh, the irony!

    Ga. Official Predicts “Peril” For Obama If He Spurns Birther Hearing

    Republican officials across the country continue their campaign to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.
    Yesterday, the Georgia Secretary of State, Republican Brian Kemp, wrote a strongly-worded letter to President Barack Obama‘s lawyer, Michael Jablonski, warning him that “if you and your client choose to suspend your participation in the… proceedings, please understand that you do so at your own peril.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here