For The Record

Secretary of State to audit voting machines in response to voter petition

By: - August 22, 2019 8:00 am

Georgia’s election board hears objections to the new voting system but Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Georgia’s ready for 2020. Beau Evans/Georgia Recorder

Georgia’s Secretary of State will reexamine new ballot machines to ensure they work properly and do not have any security flaws after nearly 1,500 people petitioned the state for a new review.

The request is required by law after the state receives such a request by voters.

The roughly 30,000 new ballot-marking machines are the subject of scrutiny as state officials push  to bring them online in time for primary elections next March. The new Dominion Voting Systems devices record votes as a barcode and print paper copies of the ballot for a voter’s review before being scanned, replacing the touchscreen system in use since 2002.

The machines will be tested further despite it being “a waste of everyone’s time and resources” to do so, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a State Election Board hearing Tuesday morning.

Raffensperger narrowly won his seat in a runoff last fall after earlier prevailing in the GOP primary.

The petition’s organizers contend several steps in the evaluation process were skipped before Raffensperger certified the devices.

“We urge you to find a balance that keeps the voter at the center of your process,” Jeanne Dufort, a Madison realtor who helped organize the petition, said Tuesday. “Do not sacrifice transparency, thoughtful deliberation and assessment of current best practices in the rush to meet deadlines.”

State officials are still working out the re-certification details and timing, which “will not at all interfere with the timeline” for installing the new machines by the March 24 presidential preference primary, Raffensperger said during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Election board member David Worley, an Atlanta attorney active in Democratic party politics, said the board would “seriously consider” their concerns. He referenced a 153-page ruling U.S. Northern District Court Judge Amy Totenberg’s issued last week, which outlined security vulnerabilities in the state’s old election system.

“I’m particularly concerned with the many, many instances the judge has highlighted problems with the state’s election database as used by the ExpressPoll system in this state,” Worley said Tuesday. “The judge has clearly pointed out flaws in that (database) that we as members of this board need to examine very carefully as this process moves forward.”

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Beau Evans
Beau Evans

Beau Evans has covered local and state government and breaking news in New Orleans and California. He’s reported on immigration issues, the threat of rising seas to coastal areas, public safety and hurricanes. At The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Evans detailed the critical role government plays to ensure that people in a community have access to clean water and other public needs. In 2018, his investigative reporting revealed top officials at New Orleans’ cash-poor water utility dealt themselves huge raises, prompting several to resign. Evans’ prior reporting was in West Marin north of San Francisco for The Point Reyes Light. Evans is an Atlanta native who graduated with honors from The Lovett School and is an honors graduate of North Carolina’s Davidson College. Beau was with the Georgia Recorder until January 4th, 2020.