Voting Experts Conclude Georgia's Voting Machines Unsafe, Unreliable For Use

Contact: Christy Setzer, 617-512-7572
[email protected]

Georgia Voters Call on SOS Kemp to Halt Use of Machines Ahead of June 20th Special Election, Use Paper Ballots Instead

Atlanta, GA - With unprecedented national attention on the June 20th Special Election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, voting security experts are sounding the alarm that the state’s voting machines are painfully out of date and prone to error, and must be replaced with paper ballots to ensure accurate results in next month’s congressional election. A group of concerned Georgia citizens is calling on Secretary of State Brian Kemp to do just that. The experts note that not only are the machines unsafe and unreliable, there is no way to verify that the results reflect voters’ choices. The system has no paper audit trail to reference in the event of machine failure or malicious software manipulation.

“I teach a cyber ethics course at Georgia Tech, and one of the first things I tell my students is that a responsible engineer has to anticipate and account for the possible failure of computer systems. That has simply not taken place in the Georgia election system. Not providing a voter-verified paper trail is so far outside the bounds of accepted professional practice that it is widely considered unethical to deploy such systems,” said Rich DeMillo, the Warren Professor of Computing and former director of the Information Security Center at Georgia Tech and a former Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard.

Last week, a group of approximately one dozen concerned Georgia voters sent a letter to Kemp requesting an immediate reexamination of the state’s touchscreen (DRE) voting system, a safeguard provided by Georgia law for citizens to seek confirmation of the accuracy of voting systems. Kemp’s office told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “We’ve received their letter, and we will provide a timeline and cost estimate for the review,” yet that timeline and cost estimate has not been provided.

Additionally, Kemp’s office claimed, “Georgia’s voting equipment is regularly tested by experts and local elections officials across the state. We have complete confidence in its accuracy and security.” In response, yesterday, the citizens updated their list of additional security concerns in a follow-up letter to Secretary Kemp. The letter incorporated documentation of serious security vulnerabilities in the state’s voting system maintenance procedures.

Responding to this claim, DeMillo noted, “I am extremely concerned when I read that someone has absolute confidence in the security of a computer system, because that means they are ignoring obvious and commonsense safeguards that would otherwise protect us in the event of failure. Engineers have a principle called the Titanic Effect: if you really believe a ship is unsinkable, the you are less likely to be worried that there are enough life boats in case of disaster. There is a kind of Titanic Effect in electronic voting systems that do not allow us to recover when things go badly astray.”

Ricardo Davis, Constitution Party of Georgia State Chairman and one of the signatories to the Kemp letter, said, “The most watched congressional election in recent history should not be conducted on the nation’s worst voting system. Paper ballots are the safe and cost-effective solution for the June 20 election. With one contest on the ballot, hand counting of ballots can be accomplished and verified shortly after the closing of the polls. Results would likely be available at least as promptly with hand counting as with electronic tabulations and transmission, and possibly more promptly. With wide-spread lack of confidence in the integrity of our federal elections, paper ballots will help restore Georgians’ confidence in election fairness.”

The Rocky Mountain Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, assisted the citizens in organizing and documenting their request for the reexamination of the voting system.

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