By Jennifer Cohn
June 29, 2018
Updated August 20, 2018,
The special election in Georgia’s 6th district.
In 2017, Georgia politician Tom Price joined the Trump administration, leaving his House seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District vacant.
The vacancy represented one of the first realistic opportunities for Democrats to “flip” a House seat from red to blue in the aftermath of the 2016 election. The race was billed by the media as a “referendum on Trump” and a “bellwether” for 2018.
The top two contenders were Republican Karen Handel (an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, pro-gun “Christian”) and Democrat Jon Ossoff (who is pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay rights, and less gun happy than Handel).
But even before the first ballot was cast, election integrity advocates and IT experts were sounding the alarm about the integrity of the race. Georgia is one of just five states that still exclusively uses paperless voting machines. Paperless voting machines are an especially attractive target for hackers because there is nothing to compare against the electronic tally to confirm whether it was manipulated. Thus, the only way to know if a paperless machine has been hacked is to conduct a forensic audit, which courts have consistently refused to allow based on the purportedly proprietary nature of the vendors’ software.
Georgia bought its touchscreen machines from Diebold in May 2002.
Diebold had entered the voting machine business just a few months prior with its acquisition of Global Election Systems, a company founded by three criminals.
At the time, Georgia’s Secretary of State was Cathy Cox, who allowed Diebold to use her image on its promotional materials.