In July 2019, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that the state had awarded a $107 million contract to manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems to replace existing voting machines with a new “verified paper ballot system.” As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both Dominion and the state’s former elections company, Election Systems & Software, had connections with Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration. Dominion lobbyist Jared Thomas had been a longtime political and campaign aide to Kemp, who previously served as secretary of state, and another lobbyist, Barry Herron, had worked for Diebold Election Systems, which had originally sold Georgia its electronic voting machines.
Georgia voters had complained about malfunctioning voting machines after the November 2018 midterm elections, even filing a lawsuit aimed at overhauling the state’s election system, including the electronic machines. But critics worry that the new electronic ballot-printing devices from Dominion won’t be much better, contending that hand-marked paper ballots remain the most secure voting method. In fact, the new devices were given a test run in six Georgia counties during the November 2019 election, and ran into a number of issues. And records we’ve already obtained showed that voter check-in devices used “1234” as their default password — an “exceptionally weak security measure.” (State officials have said the passwords have been changed.)
Elsewhere in the state, voters reported long lines and ballot issues, and concerns remain about the hidden costs of the new voting system, the state’s planned purge of 300,000 names from its voter rolls, and security weaknesses in voting equipment. With the 2020 elections looming and the security of U.S. voting systems less than certain, American Oversight is investigating state officials’ communications with Dominion Voting Systems and its subcontractor KnowInk, and is requesting records that could shed light on how the state is working to ensure secure and accurate elections.
- Records of data, reports or summaries of November 2019 voting machine errors, including information regarding KnowInk Poll Pads, from the following counties: Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Decatur, Lowndes and Paulding;
- Voting machine contract records from the Georgia Department of Administrative Services and the secretary of state;
- Communications between Executive Counsel David Dove and representatives of Election Systems and Software (ES&S);
- Communications between offices of the governor and secretary of state and Dominion Voting Systems lobbyists or representatives;
- Communications between Director of the Center for Elections Systems Michael Barnes and ES&S contractors or subcontractors working on Georgia’s elections system in 2018 and 2019;
- Georgia secretary of state records that identify all the names of ES&S contractors and subcontractors who worked on Georgia’s elections systems in 2018 and 2019, as well as records of all contracts and any payments made;
- Communications that Secretary of State Raffensperger had with Jared Thomas, Barry Herron, or Dominion Voting Systems official Kay Stimson;
- Communications from 2016 through 2018 between then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Thomas or Herron, as well as Kemp’s communications with them as governor;
- Communications from 2017 between then-Secretary of State Kemp and Kennesaw State University election officials regarding the 2018 elections server;
- Records of any evidence or informational materials relied on by Secretary of State Raffensperger in dismissing a hacking conference’s report on election vulnerabilities;
- Georgia secretary of state records reflecting communications about the nonprofit organization Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC);
- Records from multiple Georgia county governments concerning a series of public demonstrations about new electronic voting machines;
- Records of Troup County elections officials’ emails concerning misprinted return mailing and email addresses on absentee ballot request forms, and communications between the Georgia secretary of state’s office and the U.S. Postal Service about the misprint; and
- Georgia attorney general and secretary of state communications concerning the creation of the Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force announced in April 2020.