Judge Rules Fourth Time Against Switching to Paper Ballots in Georgia

Residents of Dade County work electronic voting machines at a local voting station in Miami 18 October 2004. The electronic voting machines are new in Florida, having replaced the punch-card system, four years after the state was ground zero in the US election debacle resolved in favour of Bush by …
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge ruled the fourth time against switching to paper ballots in Georgia for the November election, hours before early in-person voting is set to begin.

Judge Amy Totenberg said in a 147-page order that while there were concerns with Georgia’s ballot-marking device system and the state’s rollout of the system, making changes this close to Election Day “could cause electoral disruption and potential voter confusion.”

“Amidst the many other serious concerns facing the public in this challenging era, issues surrounding election system security, reliability, fairness, and the correct counting of votes continue on the forefront of citizen concerns,” she wrote. “And so too, in turn, does voting litigation perforce continue.”

Georgia’s election system uses touchscreen voting machines, also known as ballot-marking devices or BMDs, to print a paper ballot with a barcode, which is run through a scanner.

While Totenberg acknowledged state and local officials’ efforts to prepare for the election, she also criticized the secretary of state’s office for not addressing cybersecurity concerns voters’ rights activists addressed in a lawsuit.

“We are deeply disappointed that Georgia voters will be voting in this important election on unreliable touchscreen machines that produce results that cannot be audited,” Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the suit, said in an email.

Totenberg ruled against switching from electronic voting to paper ballots three previous times: in 2018, in 2019, and in early 2020.

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