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Election Security Becomes A Political Issue In Georgia Governor's Race

Johnny Kauffman

NPR

Aug 10, 2018

A voter in Sandy Springs, Ga. on May 9, 2018. Georgia is one of 14 states that use electronic voting machines that don't produce a paper trail to verify results, which concerns many security experts. John Bazemore/AP

In the fall of 2016, as reports of Russian-backed hacking of state election systems were surfacing, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, rejected federal offers of help to secure his state's voting systems.

"The question remains whether the federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security," Kemp told a technology website.

Now, Kemp is the Republican nominee to be Georgia's next governor, and in another election season where cyber-attacks are in the air, his record securing the state's elections is becoming a campaign issue.

This past week, the Georgia Democratic Party called for Kemp's resignation, citing in part his response to Russian-backed hacking attempts of state voting systems in 2016.

Georgia is one of 14 states that uses electronic-only voting machines without a paper trail voters can verify for themselves. Cybersecurity experts agree this leaves elections more exposed to potential hacking and technical problems. Georgia is the most populous of five states using electronic voting machines statewide.

Georgia Democrats say immediate changes are needed to secure this November's midterms.

"Here we are. Three months before an important election. Living with the reality that once again Georgia voters might be going to the polls and not know if your vote actually counts," Democratic activist Caroline Stover told a crowd of 100 Democrats as they sipped beers and ate tater tots at an Atlanta bar last week.