Judge hears election security case over Georgia voting computers

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg will soon rule on motions to discard Georgia's new $104 million voting system, conduct more stringent audits of election results and require updated paper voter registration lists at polling places, such as this one at Flat Shoals Elementary School in Atlanta.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg will soon rule on motions to discard Georgia's new $104 million voting system, conduct more stringent audits of election results and require updated paper voter registration lists at polling places, such as this one at Flat Shoals Elementary School in Atlanta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

A federal judge is holding two days of court hearings this week before deciding on a lawsuit seeking to replace Georgia’s new voting touchscreens with hand-marked paper ballots.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg will rule on motions to discard the new $104 million voting system, conduct more stringent audits of election results and require updated paper voter registration lists at polling places.

Voting integrity activists argue that election computers are vulnerable to tampering, but election officials say the touchscreens improved election security by printing out a paper ballot.

The hearings Thursday and Friday come less than eight weeks before Election Day and under five weeks before the start of in-person early voting.

Totenberg has rejected previous efforts to switch in-person voters to paper ballots bubbled in by pen. But she has also harshly criticized state election officials, writing in 2018 that they “had buried their heads in the sand” about the vulnerabilities of Georgia’s voting system.

Since then, the secretary of state’s office has replaced Georgia’s 18-year-old electronic voting touchscreens with a hybrid system. The new equipment retains touchscreen voting and adds printed-out ballots that voters can review and feed into scanners.

The plaintiffs, the Coalition for Good Governance and several Georgia voters, say hackers could still find ways to alter votes on the voting computers, and they allege the printed paper ballots provide a weak safeguard.

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