There are really disturbing reports out of Georgia's Sixth District, where Jon Ossoff is doing a great job contending for Tom Price's former Congressional seat.
Kennesaw State University, Georgia’s election operations subcontractor, reported that their digital voter registration rolls were hacked, as were voter databases at the DNC and elsewhere during the 2016 primary campaign. The effect of Kennesaw’s hack is not publicly known. The FBI investigation is ongoing. VerfiedVoting sent a letter to GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, as did Common Cause, urging use of paper ballots for April 18. Kemp spokesperson Candice Broce said, referring to hand-counting the ballots, “We are not going to do that.” (Kemp also refused public inspection of voter rolls and is being sued by the NAACP for purging voters in ways that violate federal law.)
There are three levels of problems here. First, they use antique voting machines that are easily hackable. Second, there's a Republican Secretary of State who does not see this as a problem. Third, we do not know what has been done to the voter rolls in Georgia through the 2016 hack and the evil Crosscheck system that purges voters indiscriminately.
We're told the FBI is investigating, but we all know how effective the FBI investigation into the DCCC hacks were last year, right? So I don't see this as a big deal.
Howie Klein wrote about why this is such a big deal last month.
So what's the connection to the Dutch Parliamentary elections from this week? And paper ballots? The race is widely seen as a referendum on Trump. If Ossoff wins, the fear in the White House and the Kremlin is that congressional Republicans will abandon Trump and his legislative agenda in droves. So Putin is feeling around to see if he can steal this one the way he stole swing counties in the Rust Belt. Think I'm kidding? WSB is the biggest TV station in Atlanta. Just over a week ago theyreported that the FBI is investigating a data breach at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. So? Kennesaw isn't even part of GA-06. It's in the 11th district. But WSB reported that "the state voter data kept by the Center for Election Systems was compromised [and that] the Georgia Secretary of State uses the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State to facilitate elections in all Georgia counties and maintain voting machines... Sources said the breach happened Wednesday night and the hacker made off with millions of voter records."
Now big a deal is this? Of course, Putin isn't claiming responsibility. But... this week a group of technology experts said Georgia should stop using electronic voting machines and switch to paper ballots for the April 18 Special Election. The successfully hacked Center for Election Systems tests and certifies Georgia's voting machines and electronic polling books used to check in voters at polling locations. Employees also format ballots for every election held in the state. In a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), a candidate for Governor in 2018, twenty technology experts and computer science professors affiliated with the national Verified Voting organization said paper ballots will preserve voters' confidence in the results of an upcoming special election to fill Georgia's 6th District congressional seat. The letter said using equipment maintained by the center while it is the focus of a criminal investigation "can raise deep concerns."
Verified Voting, which closely tracks voting systems used throughout the U.S., and other advocacy groups have long expressed concern with Georgia's reliance on voting machines. Barbara Simons, chairwoman of the nonpartisan organization's board, said paper ballots allow voters to ensure their choices are correct and create a trail if there are any questions about the results. It also lets officials do a hand count of the physical ballots, she said.
"Under the circumstances, the only prudent thing to do is make sure voting is done in a secure fashion," Simons said. "This should not be a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats both care about secure elections."
Turnout will matter in this election. The higher the turnout, the harder it is to hack elections. But it isn't bulletproof. The only bulletproof method is to hand count paper ballots. And we should be doing it in EVERY election, beginning with this one.