Federal Judge hears arguments over security of Georgia’s current elections system

Georgia News

A federal judge heard nearly 9 hours in oral arguments that alleges Georgia’s current electronic elections system is too insecure. Georgia was ranked by congress as one of the 4 most vulnerable states in the us for not having a paper trail.

It’s hard to know where to start with this one.

First, there’s the issue of if you are a registered Georgia voter, your information, from your date of birth to your drivers license number, and even the last four digits of your social security number have all been downloaded from this allegedly secure database. Along with elections supervisor passwords.

Cyber-security experts actually showed in court how you would hack a Georgia voting machine and change the totals, even without physical access and without the machines being online. After that, the federal judge said there’s strong evidence that something has happened.

The plaintiffs showed this aligns with national election security concerns.

“Democracy itself is in the crosshairs.”

A cyber-security expert showed on a machine, like the ones you use to vote, how 3 votes could be entered for a candidate, but at the end of election day could actually print out to reflect only 1 vote for that candidate and 2 for his opponent. And make the change undetectable. Again, without physical access to the machines and without the machines being online.

How?

Ashley Bridges reporting

Just one example, Michael Barnes, an official in the Secretary of State’s office admitted that the USB he uses to connect to GEMS, Georgia’s central election database, is also used on his work computer connected to the internet. So, through that connection, the memory cards or USB could be contaminated, the server could be contaminated, and all 27,000 voting machines have the potential to be contaminated.

Two Secretary of State officials admitted that there has been no forensic audit of the system, even looking for malicious hacking. Even after a researcher told them he had hacked the system.

Ashley Bridges reporting

6 months later, it was still open. They still admit they did nothing to decontaminate. Those Secretary of State officials testified that they actually did not even know that the voter information and elections supervisor passwords were downloaded and did not investigate.

The defense’s argument: too little time and too little money. The switch an impossibility, like putting wings on an elephant and hoping he’ll fly. 

Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox testified on their behalf that the system is flawed but said the switch would cause chaos beyond belief.

The judge also said that the defendants’ were trying to make her operate in an Alice in Wonderland world; but acknowledged their points on practicality and the resulting catch-22 that at the 11th hour, switching to paper ballots could be a logistical nightmare and actually cause people to give up at the polls.

Judge Totenberg is expected to rule on this case Friday — or Monday at the latest.

Federal Court proceedings do not allow recording devices, but for a rough log of what was said in court including areas of particular interest, or that grew particularly heated, you can read Ashley Bridges’ “Reporter’s Notebook” by clicking HERE

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