Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Coalition for Good Governance, and counsel Bruce Brown, Cary Ichter, and Rob McGuire, secured a landmark voting rights decision from a federal district court. United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg issued a preliminary injunction preventing Georgia election officials from using the state’s current electronic DRE voting machines and system in any election after 2019, and orders the State to develop a contingency plan in the event that the ballot marking devices recently enacted by the Legislature are not completely rolled out and ready for operation in time for the March 2020 presidential primary election or any subsequent election.
“Today’s historic decision is a major win for Georgia’s voters and a significant step forward in the fight to ensure election integrity,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Judge Totenberg’s careful and thorough 153-page opinion reveals the breaks in the current system and outlines the steps that must be taken to ensure the security and integrity of Georgia’s elections while guaranteeing that every vote is counted. The Court’s opinion reveals in detail the flaws in the state’s present system of balloting that threaten the franchise in Georgia. The court also underscores the cavalier attitude that state officials had toward the problems with the DRE system in recent years. Moving forward, the Court provides a roadmap for the standards the state must meet to ensure that its new system is constitutional.”
Clarke continued: “Protecting electoral integrity and protecting the right to vote are one and the same. We hope that this historic decision sends a strong message to other states with similarly outdated and hackable equipment that they must take action now to modernize and update their systems in advance of the 2020 election cycle.”
Judge Totenberg also ordered significant relief intended to address problems with the State’s electronic poll books. The State must develop new procedures to prevent address errors and discrepancies, which must include providing an updated paper backup of the voter registration list for each precinct and working with its consulting cybersecurity firm to conduct a formal assessment.
In her opinion, Judge Totenberg stated that “Plaintiffs’ voting claims go to the heart of a functioning democracy” and goes on to note that Georgia’s current system is “running on software of almost two decades vintage with well-known flaws and vulnerabilities and limited cybersecurity.” The opinion cites testimony from experts, voters, and election officials in the course of concluding that the Plaintiffs established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits that Georgia’s current DRE voting system is so deeply flawed and vulnerable that it is unconstitutional. Judge Totenberg’s opinion also observes that Georgia’s own expert, Dr. Michael Shamos, “essentially agrees” that Georgia’s DRE system is not reliably secure.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law represents the Coalition for Good Governance and four individual voters in the case, which is styled Curling v. Raffensperger. Co-counsel in the case include Rob McGuire and Georgia attorneys Bruce Brown and Cary Ichter.
A copy of the court’s ruling is available here
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommitee.org.
Stanley Augustin │ [email protected] │ 202-662-8327