Thursday October 22nd, 2020 1:23PM

Judge orders Georgia to have paper pollbook backups

By B.J. Williams Assistant News Director

ATLANTA (AP) A federal judge ruled on Monday that every polling place in Georgia must have at least one updated paper backup list of eligible voters to help keep long lines from forming on Election Day if electronic pollbooks used to check in voters malfunction.

The ``narrowly tailored'' order directs state election officials to ``provide at least a modicum of the voting backup plan tools essential to protecting voters' constitutionally protected ability and right to cast a ballot that is counted and given the same weight as any other on this coming November 3rd general election day and thereafter,'' U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg wrote in her 67-page order.

Voting integrity activists had asked the judge to order the change, arguing that malfunctioning electronic pollbooks created bottlenecks that resulted in voters waiting in long lines during the primary election in June and runoff election in August.

The KnowInk PollPads are part of the new election system the state bought last year from Dominion Voting Systems for more than $100 million.

Backups on paper will ``prevent computer `glitches' and complex electronic pollbook operating issues from bringing Election Day voting to a halt,'' said Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She also urged the secretary of state to ensure that poll workers are well trained, along with accurate paper backups, to keep voting lines moving.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office and county election officials ``are preparing Georgia for the biggest election turnout in history, and it will do so successfully despite the constant distraction of litigation filed by activists determined to undermine the credibility of our elections.''

He said the state plans to appeal the ruling.

The ruling requires Raffensperger to generate and provide to election superintendents in each county a list of electors updated at the close of the in-person early voting period to contain all the information in the electronic pollbook. The secretary of state is to instruct the election superintendents to provide at least one paper backup at each polling place on Election Day.

The paper backups are to be used to determine voter eligibility and precinct assignment in the case of equipment malfunction or other emergency, Totenberg wrote. She also ordered that efforts be made to ensure that county election officials and poll workers are trained on using paper pollbook backups and emergency ballots and that a sufficient stock of emergency paper ballots be maintained.

``It is not too late for (election officials) to take these reasonable concrete measures to mitigate the real potential harms that would otherwise likely transpire at precinct polling locations grappling with the boiling brew created by the combination of new voting equipment issues and old voter data system deficiencies,'' the judge wrote.

Totenberg's ruling follows a three-day hearing earlier this month in a long-running fight over Georgia's voting machines. The lawsuit filed in 2017 against state and county election officials originally challenged the state's old, outdated voting machines but has since been amended to target the new machines and election system.

Totenberg's ruling deals primarily with the issue of paper pollbook backups. She said during an emergency hearing Monday that she needs more time to address the other issues at stake in light of new issues raised by plaintiffs over the weekend, but she wanted to give the state time to begin preparing to provide paper pollbook backups.

The election integrity activists say the new voting machines are unaccountable and unverifiable and have many of the same security vulnerabilities as the old ones. They have asked Totenberg to order the state to ditch the new ballot-marking machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots for the November election.

State officials have argued that Georgia has made significant improvements in recent years to update and secure its election infrastructure. They had urged Totenberg not to order any changes so close to the election, saying they would be extremely costly and difficult to implement in time.

Totenberg has been highly critical of the state in the past, saying election officials long ignored clearly evident problems with the old machines, as well as other glaring security holes in the election system. But over the course of this case, she has repeatedly shied away from ordering major changes with an election looming.

Separately, a different judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Fulton County voters that sought to force election officials to hold hearings that could have resulted in 14,000 voters being removed from the county's voter rolls before the November general election. 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics
  • Associated Tags: Voting, paper pollbook, Election 2020 , election lines
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Gov. Kemp to spend the day on tour of North Georgia
Gov. Brian Kemp will spend his Tuesday on a swing across North Georgia.
5:09AM ( 37 minutes ago )
Georgia voters to choose short-term successor to John Lewis today
Seven candidates are facing off in Tuesday's special election to become the short-term successor to the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis in Georgia.
5:05AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Judge orders Georgia to have paper pollbook backups
A federal judge ruled on Monday that every polling place in Georgia must have at least one updated paper backup list of eligible voters to help keep long lines from forming on Election Day if electronic pollbooks used to check in voters malfunction.
4:58AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Local/State News
LISTEN: Dr. Ben Carson joins Morning Talk
Dr. Carson joined Morning Talk Thursday to talk about his efforts as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developments.
9:30AM ( 4 days ago )
Elger resigning from Habersham County BOE Sept. 30
John Elger, Habersham County District 5 Board of Education member, is resigning his post the end of this month, not quite half way through his four-year term.
10:30PM ( 1 week ago )
AP-NORC poll: Majority plan to vote before Election Day
A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail
10:01AM ( 1 week ago )
Runoff election was "picture-perfect" in Hall County
The runoff election went smoothly in Hall County on Tuesday, according to Hall County Elections Director Lori Wurtz.
3:57PM ( 1 month ago )
Banks County voting moved to recreation department in Homer
Banks County Election Supervisor Andra Phagan reminds residents participating in today’s runoff election that voting has been centralized.
6:01AM ( 1 month ago )
LISTEN: Mike O'Neill talks voting security
Associate General Counsel at Landmark Legal Foundation Mike O'Neill joined WDUN's Morning Talk to talk about how to ensure mail-in voting is secure.
By Morning Talk
10:30AM ( 2 months ago )
Hearing held to halt Georgia's purge of voters
A voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams has filed an emergency motion asking a court to halt Georgia's planned mass purge of voters.
1:09PM ( 9 months ago )
Forsyth Co. polling place changes approved; boundary changes proposed
Several precinct and polling place changes were approved recently by the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections approved multiple precinct and polling place changes.
By AccessWDUN Staff
3:00PM ( 9 months ago )