Valdosta Daily Times

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November 24, 2010

Open Records request for Georgia election data denied

ATLANTA — The office of the Georgia Secretary of State, in conjunction with the office of the Attorney General, has denied a request for electronic data of the November 2010 general election. The request sought to preserve two voting machines from the general election along with a copy of a county server and its election results database. The requested items would have allowed a public test of the voting machines to help verify the Election Day counting accuracy of the equipment.

The accuracy was called into question after candidates and election integrity activists noticed a pattern in three candidate non-partisan races where candidates in certain ballot positions received an unusually higher percentage of electronic votes vs. mail-in absentee votes. One race produced questionable results similar to the Alvin Greene / Vic Rawl primary held earlier this year in South Carolina.  

In the non-partisan Georgia Supreme Court election, voting machines recorded 733,770 votes for Tammy Adkins, a family lawyer who did not campaign, create a web site, accept donations, respond to surveys, advertise, distribute literature, register phone and email contact data or accept media requests.

Studies indicate that top ballot positioning may offer a 2.5 percent vote advantage and a female gender may offer as much as a 3.5 percent advantage. But that accounts for only 6 percent of the 36 percent received by Adkins, who has now initiated a campaign, after winning a run-off spot. Even if those estimates were doubled, there is still no rational explanation to account for roughly a half million votes recorded by the equipment for Adkins. 

The denial of the Open Records request was based on the contention that security could be compromised by fulfilling such a request. That contention was based on a previous case precedent known as Smith vs. Dekalb County, which occurred during the tenure of former Secretary of State Cathy Cox. In that case, a request for an archived copy of the county election database was denied for similar reasons. The security risk is unclear since only the county can access an elections database and officials have contended for years that the databases cannot be accessed remotely.

Georgia and South Carolina still use unverifiable voting equipment statewide. Adkins’ opponent, incumbent, David Nahmias, voted in the 2009 Georgia Supreme Court case to continue the use of unverifiable voting equipment.

On the web: www.voterga.org.

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