The expensive, contentious, and hard-fought election in the Georgia Sixth District between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel took a dramatic twist this week when first the Associated Press, the other news media, published a bombshell announcement. For those who questioned the use of the Diebold electronic voting machines and the lack of a paper trail, this raises even more doubts about the validity of the election results.
The Hill’s report confirms that according to a lawsuit filed on July 3rd regarding the vulnerability of these voting machines and their susceptibility to potential hacking – an email retrieved by one of the participants in the lawsuit confirms that officials at Kennesaw State University wiped the official hard drive in the server holding the election results. This action occurred on July 7th, only four days after the lawsuit was filed. At the time KSU was the repository for the Georgia election systems, a relationship that ended later that month.
In March, Kennesaw State was notified by a researcher Logan Lamb that he had identified a vulnerability in their servers that allowed hackers to access sensitive information on Georgia voters, including the date of birth and Social Security numbers for up to 5.7 million Georgia voters. The lawsuit, filed under the Freedom of Information Act, wanted to determine if people other than Lamb had been able to access these servers as well.
But their efforts, and the lawsuit, was effectively eliminated when IT staffers at Kennesaw State used a program specifically designed to wipe data from the servers. Not content with that, they took the additional step of running magnets across the hard drive to ensure that NO data remained. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also currently running for governor, denies he authorized any such action and says he has initiated an investigation.
This situation highlights the concerns first raised by Mike Farb and Unhack The Vote of the vulnerability of using electronic voting machines. The Diebold machines, that the state of Georgia purchased for one cent, that’s right, a penny each, are particularly vulnerable in that they provide no audit trail. In other words, there is not way to determine if the vote cast was the vote recorded.
There is a simple and easy solution to eliminate this problem. Countries in Europe, such as The Netherlands, have adopted it due to concerns about Russian interference in their elections. Return to using paper ballots.
Paper ballots cannot be hacked. Their results cannot be altered after the vote has been cast. They are more cumbersome to use than electronic voting machines, but mostly for election officials, not the voters. Certainly the dangers of ballot stuffing remain – which is why we should also implement stronger controls over how the ballots are retrieved and counted.
But it is imperative that the American people have confidence that their vote has been counted properly and that the integrity of our election process is secure. The 2016 presidential election, where the votes of roughly 70,000 voters in three states overrode the majority of the voters, highlights this need. Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote, and according to our Constitution, that is the vote that counts. But it still remains a fact that Hillary Clinton received over 3 million more popular votes than Trump.
This voter, who also happens to be a registered voter in the GA-06, intends to use absentee ballots in all future elections until this situation is resolved.