Jon Ossoff stands by a crowd of supporters.
Chair, Progress For All
Progress For All is proud to announce its active and full support of a recently filed lawsuit seeking to ensure integrity in the counting of ballots in the upcoming special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district. Barely a month ago, 30-year old Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote in a nonpartisan blanket primary. He fell just short of the 50% threshold needed to win the seat and avoid a June 20th runoff against the top Republican vote-getter in a crowded field.
Concerns about the accuracy of the April 18th primary election results
Unfortunately, Ossoff’s April 18th primary was marked by the kinds of irregularities that have led so many Americans to lose faith in the accuracy of our voting systems. It followed multiple hacks on various offices, stolen electronic poll books, including a copy of the statewide voter file, and a software system with gaping security holes that suggests the possibility of deliberate manipulation.
The advocacy group Voter GA released a report earlier this month that detailed how Ossoff was maintaining totals above 50% in the vote count, a level that would have prevented a run-off election. But then Fulton County experienced a “rare error” – the insertion of the wrong memory card that scrambled the results and was then followed by Ossoff’s totals falling below 50%.
This series of events revealed critical security flaws with Georgia’s touchscreen voting machines, and since they lack paper ballots (except for absentee voting), the electronic machine results cannot even be verified. The Georgia system is so flawed that the central database is not even alerted when unauthorized data enters the system. The Voter GA report concludes that the central databases “will accept invalid election data from a remote or local source and inject invalid data into live election results for totaling and publishing.”
In fact, the Diebold touchscreen machines in use in Georgia are the same machines that two Princeton grad students, in 2006, were able to design a virus to steal votes and move them from one candidate to another.
The upcoming June 20th special election
The upcoming special election is being widely viewed as a barometer of prospects for Democrats and progressive candidates in the 2018 mid-term elections. But unless Georgia heeds the advice of more than 20 national and international computer experts and implements paper ballots and post-election audits in the upcoming June 20th special election, many voters will likely question the results.
This lawsuit seeking paper ballots
For these reasons, Progress For All is actively supporting a lawsuit that was filed last Thursday in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia against the county and state election officials. This lawsuit, which was brought by individual Georgia voters and the non-partisan non-profit Rocky Mountain Foundation, is requesting the court to enjoin the use of Georgia’s flawed voting machines and to order the use of paper ballots. These plaintiffs are seeking an emergency hearing today on their application for a Temporary Restraining Order. A hearing date is expected within the next few days.
The Fight for Election Integrity
Our concerns about the conduct of the April 18th special primary and our fears about the upcoming June 20th special election are not unique to Georgia. Throughout much of the 2016 primary season, we witnessed similar concerns and fears about voting machines in numerous states – including numerous states in which Senator Bernie Sanders was winning big in the exit polls, but somehow lost the official machine counts. These discrepancies, combined with the lack of effective post-election audits, have undermined the faith of so many Americans in our voting systems.
This has been a painful learning experience for those willing to open their eyes. It is unfortunate, but true that many of the electronic voting machines are highly susceptible to software manipulation that’s difficult to detect. That’s why nearly every Western European democracy has banned the electronic voting machines. Instead they use paper ballots that are counted by hand in public and reported immediately at the local precinct level. In last year’s Brexit vote in Great Britain, all the paper ballots were counted and reported before midnight. The count was entirely transparent and the vote was verifiable. The same cannot be said for most elections in the United States.
The concerns about the security flaws in electronic voting machines are among the reasons the United States has been ranked as worst among all Western democracies in the quality and accuracy of our elections.
At Progress For All, we have been calling for public Congressional hearings to cast a spotlight on the terrible deficiencies in our voting systems. We support reforms that would ensure the transparency of ballot counting and allow concerned citizens and election officials to verify the vote.
Please contribute what you can. We need your help to support the work of the Rocky Mountain Foundation in its lawsuit to ensure the integrity of the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district and to verify the vote for Joe Ossoff in this key race.
Thanks for supporting far-reaching reforms in our elections systems.