US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered Georgia to scrap its outdated and “vulnerable” voting machines. A group of election integrity advocates and voters earlier sued the secretary of state’s office over the DRE machines being vulnerable to hacking. ( Unsplash )
A US federal judge has ordered Georgia to scrap its old, “vulnerable” voting machines for the 2020 elections, or switch to paper ballots if upgrades to a new high-tech system is delayed.
Georgia Ordered To Stop Using Voting Machines Prone To Hacking
US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg on Thursday issued a 153-page ruling that ordered state officials to stop using the outdated electronic voting machines by the end of the year.
Totenberg accepted the state’s argument that it would be too disruptive to switch to paper ballots for the special and municipal elections in November, but she refused to given extension for the 2020 election, saying that Georgia will have had ample amount of time to phase out the old Diebold Accuvote TSX touchscreen machines by then.
Georgia’s direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines use hardware and software that are over a decade old. As early as 2006, security researchers already found significant flaws with the systems. These flaws were serious enough that California decided to decertify the machines for state elections.
In 2017, a group of state voters and election integrity advocated sued the secretary of state’s office over the DRE machines being vulnerable to hacking.
Georgia, however, still uses the machines although it already plans to phase them out and replace them with a new system based on ballot-marking machines. The new system should be in place in time for the presidential primary election in March 2020.
Security advocates, however, raised concern there is possibility of delays and Georgia would still use the insecure electronic machines in the March primary and even in the November 2020 general elections.
Georgia To Use Paper Ballots If Replacement Is Delayed
Totenberg’s ruling ensures this will not happen. If Georgia will not be able to switch to the new high-tech system, the state will have to use a low-tech system of paper ballots instead of using the buggy machines.
“The court’s ruling recognizes that Georgia’s voting machines are so insecure, they’re unconstitutional,” said University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman, who served the plaintiff’s witness in the case.
“That’s a huge win for election security that will reverberate across other states that have equally vulnerable systems.”
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