New Georgia Electoral Board chairman takes helm ahead of midterms

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A newly rebuilt State Elections Commission is able to determine if the state is taking over Fulton County’s election operations, oversee Georgia’s crucial midterms, and investigate election security issues.

The new chairman of the state board is retired U.S. District Court for North Georgia Judge William Duffey Jr., who was nominated Friday by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, the same day as the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued an advisory. identify vulnerabilities in state voting software but ‌found‌ ‌no‌ ‌evidence‌ ‌of electoral interference‌ ‌.

This report could take into account a long drawn out court case pitting the state against voting organizations over the security of the state’s electronic voting system. ‌The state board that oversees state elections could also have an influence on how the process is‌ ‌managed for future use of Georgia’s Dominion Voting Systems machines purchased in 2019 for $107 million to replace its old ones. Diebold machines in time for the 2020 election cycle.

The cybersecurity agency’s report released last week confirmed vulnerabilities in Dominion’s touchscreens that had been the based on a report from expert witness Alex Halderman, a professor at the University of Michigan, who wrote that states should do a better job of protecting their voting systems and that it is dangerous to rely on digital technology which is more likely to be hacked instead of using the more secure, hand-marked paper ballots to run elections.

On Monday, election security was the focus of a letter sent to the state Elections Committee by the vice chairman of the Morgan County Democratic Party and the chairmen of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and the Republican Party of Cobb County.

The request asked the state council to implement a paper-based voting system after the federal government’s report confirmed that electronic systems could be compromised. The emergency paper voting system that is already contemplated by state law should be used until appropriate steps are taken to solve cybersecurity problems.

“The confidence of Georgian voters continues to deteriorate in the face of electoral problems caused by this complex system,” the letter said. “As members of the State Board of Elections, you are responsible for taking steps to ensure safe, fair and orderly elections.

“The facts are compelling and any argument to the contrary pales in comparison to the need for an emergency ballot for the upcoming elections,” the letter continues. “Further delays continue to put statewide elections at risk, given the widespread understanding of system vulnerabilities and the alleged leak of system software. in unauthorized hands.”

The Cybersecurity Department report made it clear that there is no evidence that the systems were compromised to influence the 2020 presidential election or subsequent ones, such as the Georgia primary on May 24. presidential election as lies over results fuel conspiracy theories falsely claiming vote count was manipulated so then-President Donald Trump lost Georgia by less than 12,000 vote for Democrat Joe Biden.

The‌ ‌report‌ ‌recommends that states using these Dominion systems perform thorough post-election audits of ballots, protect voting software, including printers and connection cables, and perform software updates. regular.

The report suggests getting rid of the barcode that is printed on paper ballots. The report also encourages voters to review their votes on printed ballots, which studies rarely show.

“As noted, we are working closely with election officials across the country to help them address these vulnerabilities by applying the mitigations recommended in the advisory,” wrote Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. . “Many of these mitigations, which are generally standard practice in the jurisdictions where these devices are used, are able to detect exploitation of these vulnerabilities and, in many cases, would prevent attempts entirely if applied with due diligence, making it highly unlikely that a malicious actor could exploit these vulnerabilities to affect an election.

In the Dominion system, Georgians vote on large touchscreen devices before printing out a paper ballot containing their selections and a QR code, or barcode, which is scanned to tabulate the results.

Amy Totenberg, United States District Court Judge stated that electronic voting systems pose security risks and that Dominion’s reliance on the QR code may not comply with Georgia law.

Dominion‌ ‌a declared ‌The visuals reaffirms the thousands of manual accounts and recounts which have shown that the ‌‌machines‌‌ ‌‌Sont‌‌‌‌Précis‌‌ ‌‌ and the past, noting that the problems which it describes are limited to the schemes for marking ballots and are not limited to devices of devices marking of ballot papers.

Additionally, the company said voters are still able to independently verify their ballot before casting it and that there is no evidence that the elections were tampered with.

“These issues require unhindered physical access to election materials, which is already prohibited by mandatory election protocols,” the statement said. “Every voting system, even manual counting, depends on these same process protections to ensure secure elections.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger criticized Halderm’s reports, calling the level of access granted to him to the state’s electoral system akin to a burglar receiving keys and an alarm code from a house before breaking in.

But the state’s office said it was looking at ways to improve the security of the state’s voting system.

Contrary to claims by Trump and many of his allies, investigations by the FBI, the former president’s attorney general and other national security agencies have found no widespread fraud or security flaws with machines. to vote contributed to the results of the 2020 elections.

Among those urging state officials to follow the cybersecurity report’s recommendations is nonprofit, nonpartisan verified voting.

“The report stresses the importance of paper ballots, which enhance election security by allowing voters to verify that their votes are correctly recorded, and calls for rigorous auditing of ballots after each election to confirm the accuracy of counts,” said Pam Smith, president and CEO of Verified. Vote. “The ballots can also be fully recounted if necessary. The report discusses a specific voting system, but some of these recommendations, including those on physical security and chain of custody, are appropriate for all jurisdictions, regardless of the voting system used.

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The rebuilt state election commission oversaw a May 24 primary that went relatively smoothly, but the state’s electoral system and election law will continue to come under scrutiny until the midterm elections in November, as well as decisions of the Secretary of State and the State Elections Commission. .

The council’s new chairman, Duffey, is a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004 who retired in 2018. He will now serve as chairman of the nonpartisan board of a five-member council with three Republicans and a Democrat. The post remained vacant over the past year after Raffensperger lost the presidency following the passage of the electoral law overhaul.

Retired federal judge William S. Duffey, Jr. is the chairman of the State Election Board.

Republican ‌legislators‌ who support the elimination of the partisan elected office of Secretary of State have said they want to end partisanship associated with the presidency.

In his role as chairman, Duffey is setting the agenda for a council that in the coming weeks or months will likely receive the results of an investigation into Fulton County election operations and deal with a host of other problems.

Duffey served as assistant to Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr for the Arkansas portion of the Whitewater Inquiry into the real estate dealings of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When he became a US attorney in 2001, Duffey took charge of a massive corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall.

Duffey said his legal expertise is suited to handle complex issues before the state election commission.

“Our democracy is based on the participation of citizens in the process of electing those who govern them,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working with my colleagues on the State Board of Elections to fulfill our duty to protect the integrity of the electoral process, because every Georgia voter has the right to know that their vote is safe and counts. “

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