Judge: Georgia must scrap old voting machines after 2019
ATLANTA— A federal judge on Thursday ordered Georgia to stop using its outdated voting machines after this year and to be ready with hand-marked paper ballots if its new system isn’t in place for the presidential primaries.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s 153-page ruling Thursday is not a complete victory for either side.
A federal lawsuit filed by election integrity advocates and individual Georgia voters argues that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, vulnerable to hacking and can’t be audited. They have been seeking statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.
A law passed this year provided specifications for a new system. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified a new system last week and said new machines will be in place for the state’s presidential primary election on March 24.
But the plaintiffs had asked Totenberg to order the state to immediately stop using the current system, which it plans to use for special and municipal elections this year. They also said they feared that the timeline for the implementation of the new machines is too tight, which could result in the old machines being used for 2020 elections.
Totenberg’s order made it clear that she shares that fear: She said that if the new system is not ready by March, the state cannot default to the old machines.
The integrity of Georgia’s voting system was heavily scrutinized during last year’s midterm election, in which Republican Brian Kemp, the state’s top election official at the time, narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to become governor.
Kate Brumback is an Associated Press writer.