Hearing set for lawsuit challenging Georgia lieutenant governor race

A Cobb County judge will hold a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit challenging the election of Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan.

The case alleges that a drop-off in votes for lieutenant governor indicates the election between Duncan, a Republican, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico was flawed and should be redone. Duncan won by more than 123,000 votes.

While it’s not unusual for voters to skip down-ballot races, the lawsuit raises suspicions about potential irregularities in the lieutenant governor’s election.

The suit, filed Nov. 23 by an election integrity advocacy group and three voters, blames the state’s 16-year-old direct-recording electronic voting system. About 80,000 fewer votes were counted in the lieutenant governor’s race than the average of ballots recorded in 10 statewide contests in the Nov. 6 election.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is the Coalition for Good Governance, a Denver-based nonprofit that’s also involved in other litigation alleging vulnerabilities in Georgia’s electronic voting machines.

Besides calling for a new election for lieutenant governor, the lawsuit also seeks to conduct the election on verifiable paper ballots.

University of California-Berkeley professor Philip B. Stark, who examined the Winterville Train Depot precinct in Athens-Clarke County on behalf of the plaintiffs, said the results of the race “are in substantial doubt.”

“The disparity in undervote rates by voting technology strongly suggests that malfunction, misconfiguration, bugs, hacking or other error or malfeasance caused some (direct-recording electronic machines) not to record votes in the lieutenant governor’s contest.”

Staff writer Mark Niesse contributed to this article.