Dominion election upgrade approved for first Georgia counties

Latest software will be tested this fall, but statewide rollout will wait
Voters cast their ballots on Dominion touchscreens during early voting in 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. (John Spink /



Voters cast their ballots on Dominion touchscreens during early voting in 2020 at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. (John Spink /

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has approved an upgrade of the state’s Dominion voting equipment before several local elections this fall, a test run of technology that could help prevent potential malware and hacks.

The new version of Dominion’s software — an update sought by some election security advocates and politicians — will be piloted in municipal elections in five counties, the secretary of state’s office said Wednesday.

Election officials don’t plan a massive statewide rollout of the software, covering tens of thousands of touchscreens and ballot scanners, until the software is thoroughly tested, and only after the 2024 presidential election.

Raffensperger has said Georgia’s “battle tested” voting system is already secure, but he faced pressure to quickly install the upgrade after a federal cybersecurity review verified vulnerabilities. He said existing security precautions minimize the real-world risk of tampering.

“We’re being thorough with our testing and evaluation so that we can assure Georgia voters that their elections will continue to be the most secure and accurate in the nation,” Raffensperger said.

Dominion’s voting system, which relies on touchscreens and printed-out ballots, has come under fire since the 2020 election, especially from Republican supporters of Donald Trump following his narrow loss in Georgia. Multiple investigations and recounts have checked the results.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

Election officials plan “health checks” to verify that voting software hasn’t been altered, logic and accuracy testing on each piece of equipment, a post-election audit, and a partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure equipment is kept locked up before elections.

The latest software will be installed and piloted this fall in Appling, Heard, Lee, Rabun and Rockdale counties, according to Raffensperger’s provisional certification, which expires Dec. 31.

The update was evaluated by an Alabama testing company called Pro V&V before Raffensperger certified it Tuesday.

Vulnerabilities in Dominion’s software were first identified by University of Michigan computer science professor Alex Halderman, who wrote a report in federal court that said votes could be altered by someone who gained access to voting equipment, such as a voter in a polling place or a corrupt election official.

Then the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency confirmed the vulnerabilities last year, but it found no evidence that weaknesses have ever been exploited in an election.

A Dominion-funded report by the MITRE National Election Security Lab, an organization that assessed Halderman’s findings, said hacks are “operationally infeasible” and easily defeated by routine election security procedures.

But Dominion’s software was copied in Coffee County in South Georgia after the 2020 election, when local election officials gave access to computer technicians working for Trump supporters. Four people involved in the Coffee County breach faced charges, one of whom has pleaded guilty.

The software upgrade could help mitigate vulnerabilities by making it more difficult for hackers to create malware that would infect the new system.

A federal certification document says the update includes additional encryption of election databases, upgraded servers and an “automated hardening procedure.”

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission certified the newer version of Dominion’s software in March.

Outside Georgia, election officials in Michigan plan to complete the upgrade of Dominion tabulators before the 2024 presidential primary. An attorney for Raffensperger told state legislators in August that Georgia isn’t comparable to Michigan, where much less Dominion equipment is in use.

Before certifying the new Dominion software, technicians resolved a compatibility issue with the state’s voter check-in tablets called PollPads.

Republican state senators who have raised concerns about election security plan to hold hearings at the Georgia Capitol this fall.