There are so many disturbing aspects to the special election happening in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, it’s hard to know where to begin.
For starters, the election runs on Microsoft Server 2000. That is not a typo. “That’s a crap system,” said Douglas Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa in a phone interview, adding that the database in use, Microsoft Access is a “toy database” that should never be used for industrial applications.
Fulton County elections director Richard Barron acknowledged in testimony on the troubled first round of the election that the system is “inflexible.” But delving into his testimony further, and speaking to both local and national computer experts it’s evident that the results of the first round of the election on April 18 are legitimately suspect and that no election running on this type of computer system can be verified as accurate.
The April contest was conducted following multiple hacks on various offices, stolen electronic poll books that included a copy of Georgia’s statewide voter file, and a software system with such gaping security holes that the author of one report questioned if the gaps were a deliberate back door left open for potential manipulation. This is not the first time the question of software back doors on voting equipment has arisen. In a February 2017 article in the New Republic, Steve Friess wrote, “The machines are prone to malfunctions and miscounts, and many have back doors that can enable attackers to alter the outcome by infecting them with malware.”
The race is being widely viewed as a barometer of the Democrats 2018 midterm prospects. But unless Georgia heeds the advice of over 20 national and international computer experts and implements paper ballots and post-election audits in its upcoming June 20 race, the face off between Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff and former Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel is likely to produce results that many voters will question.