Setting the Election Security Record Straight
Dear Members of the General Assembly,
Georgia’s election system is secure. It’s been battle-tested through two general elections, subjected to repeated audits and intense public scrutiny, and come through with flying colors. Georgia’s election officials are proceeding judiciously and responsibly to ensure that our elections are secure, accurate and accessible to the voters. Every single piece of voting equipment across Georgia will undergo security health checks ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, including verification no software has been tampered with.
The current proposed software upgrade has never been deployed for a major election anywhere in the nation. There are pilot tests of the upgrade that will take place in some local jurisdictions in Ohio, and Georgia will test it in some municipal elections this fall. In an initial evaluation by our election officials, the upgraded software was found to be incompatible with our poll pads. Discovering that problem during an election would have caused chaos. Discovering it ahead of time allows us to develop a patch that addresses the issue -without risking any election or public trust in the results.
The “critics of Georgia’s election security” you’ve probably seen quoted in the media are from one of only two groups: election-denying conspiracy theorists or litigants in the long-running Curling lawsuit. These two groups make ever-shifting but always baseless assertions that Georgia’s election system is at risk because bad actors might hack the system and change the result of an election. These are the same assertions we heard in 2016, when Russia supposedly “hacked the election,” and in 2018, when Stacey Abrams refused to concede because of “voter suppression.” We heard them in 2020, and conducted a risk-limiting audit and a full hand recount of every ballot in Georgia to prove that our results were accurate, and our elections were and are secure. The 2022 elections saw record-breaking voter turnout, high levels of voter satisfaction and virtually zero complaints about the process -or the results.
That system, proven and tested, is the system we have in place today for Georgia elections. We have layers of security protocols and procedures to physically protect ballots, the system, the software, and the results. We have tests and audits to verify results. We have to run elections in the real-world, not just create conspiracies or hypothetical possibilities.
The Halderman report was the result of a computer scientist having complete access to the Dominion equipment and software for three months in a laboratory environment. It identified risks that are theoretical and imaginary. Our security measures are real and mitigate all of them. The MITRE report is available on our website for anyone to read and points out that the vulnerabilities described by Halderman as operationally infeasible. Specifically, the MITRE report found “five of six attacks were…non-scalable, impacting a statistically insignificant number of votes on a single device at a time. One attack was technically scalable but also…infeasible due to access controls in place in operational election environments, access required to Dominion election software, and access required to Dominion election hardware.”
Is it possible for a team of bad actors to break into Georgia’s 2700 voting precincts, install malware that changes election outcomes on 35,000 pieces of equipment, and sneak back out -all the while being undetected and leaving no trace? I’ll put it this way: It’s more likely that I could win the lottery without buying a ticket. If the threat to election security comes down to bad people doing bad things, that threat is addressed with locks and keys and surveillance cameras and physical security measures, and punishment for those who break our laws.
I know you share my concern for election integrity and appreciate your actions in support of this office. I believe that legislative consideration for increasing the penalties for any person who gains or grants unauthorized access to any part of Georgia’s election equipment or software would demonstrate to the people of Georgia that we take their elections seriously.
You can read the MITRE report here.
Georgia Secretary of State
Georgia is recognized as a national leader in elections. It was the first state in the country to implement the trifecta of automatic voter registration, at least 17 days of early voting (which has been called the “gold standard”), and no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia continues to set records for voter turnout and election participation, seeing the largest increase in average turnout of any other state in the 2018 midterm election and record turnout in 2020, and 2022. 2022 achieved the largest single day of in-person early voting turnout in Georgia midterm history utilizing Georgia’s secure, paper ballot voting system. Most recently, Georgia ranked #1 for Election Integrity by the Heritage Foundation, a top ranking for Voter Accessibility by the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and tied for number one in Election Administration by the Bipartisan Policy Center.