Georgians for Verified Voting Masthead with American Flag and State of Georgia Flag

November 12, 2017 posted by Donna Price

Legislation Coming to Georgia for Ballot Scanning/Paper Ballot Voting System to Replace Paperless DREs

Giovanna Drpic reports on CBS Channel 46 Atlanta GA on legislation being introduced in Georgia with bipartisan support for a secure, transparent, auditable paper ballot scanning voting system. The legislation calls for a statewide precinct-based paper ballot scanning voting system for casting and counting voter-verified paper ballots; replacing the direct recording electronic (DRE) voting system; authorizing voter-marked paper ballots as the ballot of record; providing for post-election audits; authorizing provision of funds for new equipment.


October 8, 2017 posted by Donna Price

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Georgians for Verified Voting (GAVV)
Gaverifiedvoting.org

(ATLANTA) GAVV recommends the adoption of a statewide precinct-based paper ballot scanning voting system for casting and counting voter-verified paper ballots to replace Georgia's direct recording electronic (DRE) voting system. Find out more about the recommended voting system on our Legislation page.


20170804 Scribd Curling v KEMP (2) Amended Complaint


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Georgians for Verified Voting (GAVV)
Gaverifiedvoting.org

(ATLANTA) July 4, 2017 – On July 3, the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) and six Georgia voters filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court alleging that recently discovered security breaches to the voting system in the state cast serious doubt on the ability to determine the accuracy of results in Georgia’s 6th District Special Election on June 20, 2017.

“Georgia 6th District voters unknowingly cast their votes on a system that has been compromised so severely that legitimacy of the outcome is indeterminate, said Donna Curling, GAVV legislative liaison. “Our effort is not about who won—this is not a partisan issue—but about the voters’ inability to accurately verify the winner.”

Curling is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, together with Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of Coalition for Good Governance , the organizational plaintiff in the suit.

Vulnerabilities in the architecture of Georgia’s direct-recording electronic (DRE) paperless, voting system have been confirmed as major security risks to elections by computer science and information security experts across the nation since the system was first installed in 2002, in response to the influx of money that the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) offered to states to upgrade voting systems.

The effect of these vulnerabilities, among other serious concerns, is that the security of the votes cast in Georgia’s elections could be compromised throughout the entire state, enabling a single attacker to alter election results without detection.

New spotlight on the issue was focused early this year when news emerged of an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe into a data breach at Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Center for Election Systems (CES) that could have exposed as many as 7.5 million voter records.

All counties in Georgia utilize two types of electronic voting systems: an optical scan system for processing absentee and provisional paper ballots and a Direct Recording Electronic (“DRE”) touchscreen voting system, which is primarily used for early and election day voting. These systems include hardware, software, and firmware used to define ballots, cast and count votes, aggregate, report and display election results. Technical components of the state’s voting system are maintained at CES.

Breaches of information security at KSU CES and non-transparency of the state’s certification of the system to federal and state mandates leave voters in intolerable doubt as to election results. Voters and legislators are asked to trust the word of the election officials that their votes are counted as cast.

In response to news of the Kennesaw breach, the national election integrity group, Verified Voting, sent a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, signed by 22 leading U.S. computer scientists, urging that the stateact with all haste to move Georgia to a system of voter-verified paper ballots and to conduct post-election manual audits of election results going forward to provide integrity and transparency to all of Georgia’s elections.”

Subsequently new security concerns emerged, including the April 15th, theft of poll books, just prior to early voting in the Georgia 6th district Runoff.  The pollbooks, according to reports, were later found in a dumpster. Pollbooks play a key role in the chain of custody of election results and in the integrity of votes cast.

According to Merle King, executive director of KSU CES, pollbooks are used “to confirm the voter’s name and address but also [are] used to create a voter access card, a Smart Card, that has key information on it that is used to bring up the ballot style on the DRE to which that voter is entitled to vote. The voter will then take that voter access card to a DRE insert it into a DRE. It will bring up the appropriate ballot style.”(1)

Because of the seriousness of the security concerns, urgent warnings and requests by CGG for an independent, system-wide security inspection of the voting system prior to the Runoff were sent to Secretary Kemp. When these were not heeded by the state, on May 25, CGG announced a lawsuit had been filed, Curling vs Kemp, by CGG and 16 Georgia voters contending that “the states voting machines should be replaced for use in the special election by paper ballots.” 

Though that suit failed to yield an injunction to stop the conduct of the election on the DRE’s, further confirmation of the necessity for that lawsuit surfaced when the scope of the breach of Kennesaw Elections Systems was confirmed in an article in Politico on June 14,  “Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked.”

Of the July 3 lawsuit, Marks says, “As the facts of the case are presented, Georgia voters will be appalled at the recklessness with which officials handled their votes. Secretary Kemp and all the named election officials received repeated grave warnings from cybersecurity experts concerning the likely compromise of the system and the compelling need to use paper ballots. Officials irresponsibly ignored the compelling evidence of the problems and concealed them from the public as they made false assurances about the security of the system."

Paperless DRE voting has been widely abandoned as expert knowledge of their inappropriate place in American elections has been heeded by state officials. 

“The flaws in the system are serious and must be widely recognized and understood by Georgia voters,” says Donna Price, one of the plaintiffs in Curling vs Kemp and director, Georgians for Verified Voting. “This is unacceptable for a democratic voting system, which must be transparent and independently verifiable so that voters can know, without question or ambiguity, that their votes were counted as cast.”

“Georgia remains one of only five states in the US that still vote on paperless DREs statewide,” Price says.  “The state could be an exemplar in voting systems by passing legislation in the 2018 General Assembly that mandates a paper-ballot based voting system that includes optical scan counts and mandatory, software-independent audits to transparently confirm election accuracy.  Paperless electronic voting systems like Georgia’s can never be adequately secured, no matter now much money or maintenance efforts are thrown at them.  The costs to taxpayers to conduct elections would significantly drop while we would gain a system that is secure, transparent, and auditable, one that the state can take great pride in, instead of being a national shame. ”

Price was an activist for verified voting in Georgia and nationally from 2003-06, and was a member of the VoteTrust USA National Leader’s Group and Advisory Board, when she lobbied for voter verified paper ballots in Georgia and Washington, DC.  In 2006 she filed a Complaint with the State Election Board that was referred to then Attorney General Thurbert Baker detailing concerns that the voting system used in the 2006 primaries and federal elections had not been certified according to Georgia law by then Secretary of State Cathy Cox. The state’s failure to address the 2006 complaint helped lead to the electoral crisis now faced in Georgia.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Christy Setzer, 617-512-7572
christy@newheightscommunications.com
Thursday, June 1, 2017

JUNE 7 HEARING SET IN LAWSUIT AGAINST SEC. OF STATE KEMP FOR UNSAFE VOTING MACHINES

Voters Seek To Halt Use of Insecure Machines, Use Paper Ballots Instead

Election Security Group Urges Early Voters to Use Absentee Ballots

Atlanta (June 1, 2017) – A hearing is set for Wednesday, June 7th in the lawsuit against three county election officials and Secretary of State Brian Kemp two weeks before the 6th Congressional District runoff election. A complaint and Temporary Restraining Order motion brought by Rocky Mountain Foundation and members of Georgians for Verified Voting present the case that the state’s touchscreen-based voting system is “uncertified, unsafe and inaccurate” and that the county officials must instead use paper ballots in the election to have a verifiable transparent election.

In March, the FBI investigated a cyber-attack on the Center for Election Systems (CES) at Kennesaw State University, the entity responsible for testing and programming voting machines across Georgia. While the FBI closed its investigation and did not prosecute anyone, experts are concerned that lax cybersecurity at CES creates a serious ongoing risk of voting system intrusion or malfunction. During the April 18 special election, a number of irregularities occurred – approximately 150 voters’ ballot choices were not recorded at all on the machines causing empty ballots to be cast. Also, Fulton County’s voting system malfunctioned when improper memory cards were introduced into the system, and were initially undetected.

The plaintiffs joined other diverse voices in urging Kemp to examine the state’s voting system ahead of the special election. A group of 16 prominent computer scientists expressed their “grave concerns” yet again to Kemp in a letter, which incorporated documentation of serious security vulnerabilities in the state’s voting system maintenance procedures.

“There’s no available federal certification for Georgia’s voter system, although the state has touted federal certification for years, and the system no longer meets federal certification standards, --even the 1990 standards the state previously applied.” said Donna Curling, a plaintiff and a 6th Congressional District voter. “The errors that occurred on April 18 in Fulton County, and the hacking that happened at CES, have not been adequately explained, which shows our system is insecure and may be compromised. The only way to ensure we have a secure election in June is to use paper ballots.”

“Secretary of State Kemp and the county election directors made an irresponsible decision to begin early voting without first addressing the voting system’s insecurities. That means thousands of Georgians will be casting a vote on a system that experts warn may not be secure or accurate,” said Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Foundation, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Georgians who want to vote early and ensure their ballot is counted as they intended should mail in an absentee ballot rather than using the touchscreen machines.”

The hearing will be held on June 7 at 10 a.m. in the Superior Court of Fulton County in Atlanta. The individual plaintiffs, Curling and Donna Price, are, respectively, Legislative Liaison and Director for Georgians for Verified Voting. The organizational plaintiff, Rocky Mountain Foundation, is a nonpartisan nonprofit with Georgia members who intend to vote on paper ballots in the runoff.

On May 10th, 16 Georgia voters, including the plaintiffs, submitted a letter to Secretary Kemp. Georgia statutes require that the Secretary of State re-examine the state’s voting if 10 or more electors request it, and that if the system is found to be unsafe or inaccurate, the election must use paper ballots instead. When 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,” the voters updated their list of additional security concerns in a follow-up letter.

Voting experts suggest Georgia voters mail-in absentee paper ballots if they choose to vote early.

"Memorial Day is a potent reminder

Memorial Day reminds us there is a high, high price to be paid for freedom. Don't give away the freedom to vote. On paperless e-voting machines like we have in GA, there is a very real threat that votes could be hacked, totals changed, the will of the voter subverted--without leaving a trace. Don't take my word for it, read the complaint we just filed.

And the remedy is not complicated: paper ballots with optical scan counting systems and Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs). Wisconsin is a model for paper ballot systems.  Colorado is in the process of establishing RLAs statewide. Rhode Island is moving toward good audit laws. Info about state voting systems and audits can be found here: https://www.verifiedvoting.org/state-audit-laws

Do we really buy the argument that it's too hard to mark our choices on paper, ensure paper ballots aren't stolen or lost, hand audit statistically significant numbers to verify the counts? Yes it's work. But good heavens, it's not freezing in a foxhole in the Argonne Forest. It's not starving to death in a prisoner of war camp. It's not being blown up on Normandy Beach.

 

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