Yesterday, a federal judge ordered Georgia to stop using its outdated voting machines after this year. The state must also be ready with hand-marked paper ballots if its new system isn’t in place for the presidential primaries in 2020.
The lawsuit argues that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, exposed to hacking, and can’t be audited (checked for accuracy).
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s ruling isn’t a complete victory for either side. The parties bringing the lawsuit had asked Totenberg to order the state to stop using the current system immediately. However, Georgia still plans to use them for this year’s elections.
Georgia voting officials aren’t happy either. They fear the timeline for the new machines is too tight. However, they say new machines will be in place for the state’s presidential primary election on March 24 next year.
Totenberg says that if the new system isn’t ready by March, the state cannot default to the old machines.
The reliability of Georgia’s voting system was studied during last year’s midterm election. In that race, Republican Brian Kemp, the state’s top election official at the time, narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to become governor.
Voting rights advocates asked Totenberg last August to force Georgia to use paper ballots for that election. The judge said at the time that she had serious concerns about weaknesses in the voting system and rebuked state officials for ignoring the problems. But she said it would be too chaotic at that point to switch so close to the November 2018 election.
(Voters cast ballots in a general election in Marietta, Georgia in October of 2018. AP Photo/Mike Stewart)