Deidre B. Holden, Paulding County Board of Elections & Voter Registration supervisor, operate a voting machine Paulding County tested Georgia’s new voting machines on Monday during their municipal election. Paulding, along with six other counties, were the first to test the new machines that will be in all polling stations in the state for the first presidential primary election. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voting machine critics investigated by Georgia election officials

Georgia election officials are investigating three prominent critics for allegedly intruding into voting areas during a test run of the state’s new voting machines.

The people under investigation said the investigation is an intimidation tactic by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

Marilyn Marks and Rhonda Martin, plaintiffs in lawsuits over Georgia's voting machines, and Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in an unauthorized area” during the Nov. 5 election, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger.

“The secretary of state takes voters’ reports that individuals are violating election law and undermining the integrity of our state and local elections seriously,” Jones said in a statement.

May 7, 2019 Atlanta - From left: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks, attorney Justin Berger, plaintiff Rhonda Martin, plaintiff Smythe DuVal and plaintiff Jeanne DuFort listen during a hearing at Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Georgia Supreme Court is considering an appeal Tuesday of a case alleging tens of thousands of votes disappeared in the race for lieutenant governor. Plaintiffs in the case say Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico could have won if votes hadn’t been lost or changed by Georgia’s outdated electronic voting machines. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Marks wrote on Twitter that Raffensperger is attempting to marginalize skeptics of the state’s new voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed ballots. The system is scheduled to be rolled out to voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.

“Doesn’t take a genius to see that he’s trying to deflect from the scrutiny that his $107M failing voting system is getting,” wrote Marks, executive director for the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity organization. “Can you blame him for not wanting anyone to take a hard look?

DeMillo wrote that he knew what rules to follow when observing public events in a public place.

2/20/19 - Atlanta - Richard DeMillo, Professor of Computing and Professor of Management at Georgia Tech, spoke about voting machine hacking during public comment. The Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Alan Powell, held it’s second day of hearings on House Bill 316, which would change the state’s voting system. Bob Andres /
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The secretary of state’s office cited Georgia laws governing election privacy.

The public must remain outside enclosed voting spaces during elections, according to state law. Photography of ballots and voting machine screens while people are voting is prohibited.

Election investigations are conducted by the secretary of state’s office and can be presented to the State Election Board for potential punishment. Cases can result in letters of admonition or prosecution.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.