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Lawsuit challenging Georgia lieutenant governor race to resume Friday

Arguments in a case challenging Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s November win will resume Friday.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are trying to prove that the drop-off in votes cast in the lieutenant governor’s race indicates the election between Duncan, a Republican, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico was caused by malfunctioning voting machines. Duncan won by more than 123,000 votes.

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.

Bruce Brown, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the drop-off rate between people who cast their ballots in the lieutenant governor’s race on Election Day using electronic voting machines and those who voted either early or by absentee ballot is also suspicious.

“The entire contest is tainted because the (drop-off in votes) shows the machines were not working,” he said. “We need a new election.”

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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 lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is the Coalition for Good Governance, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that’s also involved in other litigation alleging vulnerabilities in Georgia’s electronic voting machines. They are suing Duncan as well as the elections boards for Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

Edward Lindsey, an attorney representing Duncan, said there could be any number of reasons that fewer people voted for lieutenant governor than for agriculture commissioner.

Lindsey said having a record number of new voters, a ballot configuration that could confuse people into believing the governor and lieutenant governor were running on one ticket, and negative press around the race could have caused people to skip the contest.

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

The hearing will resume 9 a.m. Friday at Cobb County Magistrate Court.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/news/georgia-government/.

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