The Elbert Parr Tuttle Courthouse in Atlanta, home to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Photo: uscourts.gov.)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia voters suing for paper ballots win appeal to 11th Circuit

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge’s ruling that said Georgia’s electronic voting system poses a “concrete risk” to secure elections.

The decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows the voting system lawsuit to move forward. 

The plaintiffs, who are election integrity advocates and concerned voters, want U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to switch Georgia’s statewide voting system to hand-marked paper ballots

Totenberg ruled in September that the plaintiffs will likely succeed in the lawsuit, but she denied their request to immediately switch to paper ballots so close to November’s midterm elections.

“Now we can get past the defendants’ delays and move forward with the case on the merits and get the relief Judge Totenberg already ruled we’re entitled to,” said David Cross, an attorney for Georgia voters who sued. “This appeal was meritless from the start.”

A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the ruling “simply means that the case will continue.”

The appeals court ruling rejected assertions that the state election officials have immunity. The court also found that it didn’t have jurisdiction at this point in the case to address claims that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue.

The case now returns to Judge Totenberg’s court, where Cross said he will seek to move quickly toward a trial.

Meanwhile, the Georgia General Assembly is considering buying a new voting system. Options include touchscreens that print paper ballots, or paper ballots that voters bubble in by hand. Both systems would use optical scanning machines to tabulate votes.

“The Secretary of State’s Office encourages legislators as they create a bill to consider all possible risks that could potentially be associated with any new voting systems,” said Tess Hammock, a spokeswoman for Raffensperger.

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