Watchdog Group Warns of 'Completely Defective' Databases in Georgia's Voting System

A watchdog group in Georgia has filed another piece of its lawsuit against the state, warning that a recently discovered error has made databases used in Georgia's voting system "completely defective."

The Coalition for Good Governance, an elections integrity group, filed a court document Friday alleging a major technical issue ahead of the November election, WXIA-TV reported. The group learned of the issue after it received a message from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office to counties.

The court document includes a screenshot of the message sent by the Secretary of State's Elections Division Director, Chris Harvey. Harvey's message describes an "error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database," according to WXIA-TV.

The error will cause a setback with "logic and accuracy (L&A) testing" of voting equipment, Harvey's message indicates. Under Georgia state law, L&A testing is required prior to any election to "confirm that voting equipment 'will correctly count the votes cast for all offices,'" according to a Kennesaw State University manual.

The error will "not have an impact on any absentee ballot processing," and the state is doing "everything we can to minimize the delay that this will cause," Harvey wrote Friday in his message to counties. Early absentee voting in the state is set to begin October 12.

Counties will receive an update Monday on the estimated time they will receive their new database, Harvey wrote.

The Coalition for Good Governance argues in their court filing that this new setback will make it effectively impossible for Georgia to properly test its voting equipment before the November 3 election, which is just 38 days away, WXIA-TV reported.

"There will not, at this point, be sufficient time to conduct the Logic and Accuracy testing that is required by statute for a fully deployed Dominion voting system," the filing states.

Local elections officials are responsible for conducting the L&A tests and have until "on or before the third day" prior to an election to conduct them, according to state law.

The document notes that Harvey said in an August 26 court declaration that the databases would be built "in the next week." One week later, the databases were "nearly complete," the state claimed, according to WXIA-TV.

"Even though the databases were 'nearly complete' on September 4, it was not until today, September 25...that the State announced that the Dominion-built databases...were in fact so completely defective that Logic and Accuracy testing would be a waste of time and the databases must now be completely rebuilt," the court document states.

Newsweek contacted the office of Georgia's Secretary of State for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Early Voting in Virginia
A woman votes at an early voting location in Fairfax, Virginia on September 18, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty

The document is an emergency notice of supplemental evidence in the Coalition for Good Governance's ongoing lawsuit against the state arguing for the use of hand-marked paper ballots in the general election instead of ballot marking devices (BMDs), which require the L&A testing.

"Conducting in-person voting using hand marked paper ballots, instead of BMDs, eliminates the need to test approximately 68,000 BMDs and printers in what is an otherwise impossible time frame and makes conducting the upcoming election in a secure manner possible," the group asserts.

The Coalition for Good Governance initially filed the lawsuit in June 2017, targeting the outdated, paperless touchscreen voting machines used in Georgia since 2002, the Associated Press reported.

Last year, the state purchased from Dominion Voting Systems a new election system, which includes touchscreen machines that print a paper ballot read by a scanner.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who is presiding over the case, has been critical of Georgia in the past, arguing that election officials have ignored obvious problems with the old machines and other glaring security holes in the system, according to the AP.