As runoffs loom, Georgia's election integrity is a joke

Although it seems as though it took place long ago, in a year that has seemed to drag on from one low point to another, the November 3 election happened less than seven weeks ago.  Ever since then, countless personal accounts of election irregularities, conflicting reporting from partisan media, and the numerous delays from many GOP leaders in accepting the possibility of Joe Biden being sworn in as our 46th president have been the political reality in America.

At the core of our current state of disputation is the question of election integrity.  We've seen numerous legal challenges and thousands of affidavits filed and have had to go through the exercise of observing "social media lawyers" misusing legalese and framing irrelevant or fallacious arguments, and yet we still do not know how safe and secure the American election system really is going forward, post-2020.

In the state of Georgia, where the eyes of the nation have turned in advance of a set of pivotal Senate elections that will determine control of Congress's upper chamber, Republicans have already filed two federal and one state-level lawsuit related to the January 5 run-offs, which have already seen hundreds of thousands of people vote by mail or in person.  The legal challenges primarily centered on the use of drop-boxes for returning absentee ballots as well as raising the level of scrutiny applied in verifying signatures on those ballots.

The two federal suits were dismissed by district judges in the past few days; they opined that the Republican plaintiffs, who were a combination of local, state, and national Republican Party groups, lacked legal standing for their arguments.

Beyond the issues related to absentee ballots, Georgia's recent history in securing elections digitally has also failed to inspire confidence as a "white hat" hack in 2016 by cyber-security researcher Logan Lamb compromised Georgia's voter data.  Lamb, who was motivated by the hype regarding potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, began researching Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which was tasked with the programming of voting machines in the state of Georgia.

Lamb was able to access and download almost 15 gigabytes of Georgia voter data that included the registration records for 6.7 million voters.  Additionally, he gained access to the login credentials that were created for poll-workers to use on Election Day in 2016.

In the aftermath of the Lamb hack, Georgia almost enacted a horrifically misguided bill that would have further complicated the research associated with improving general cyber-security.  SB 315 would have established so-called "white hat hacking" as a "misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature."  It would have also held individuals who gained "unauthorized" access to a computer or network of computers liable for a maximum $5,000 fine and year-long jail sentence, essentially stifling some of the most necessary functions of security researchers and I.T. personnel, who, through attempting to access computer networks from the outside, uncover system vulnerabilities.

Over four years after Lamb's hack, the Georgia election apparatus was again victimized by hacking when an October 7 attack hit Hall County, Ga. and disabled the county's voter signature database.  The DoppelPaymer ransomware gang took credit for the compromise that affected the county, which is home to approximately 180,000 residents.

Despite the recent announcement from Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger that a signature-matching effort for absentee ballots for the 2020 presidential election from all 159 counties in Georgia will be conducted in partnership with the University of Georgia, that last-gasp effort to establish the legitimacy of recent election results does little to reassure Republican voters, who have been treated to what feels like a non-stop carousel of press conferences, state-level election–themed hearings, and the anticipated release of whatever constitutes the "kraken."

Whether famed attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood actually reveal earth-shattering revelations or mythical Scandinavian sea monsters or are only bluffing remains to be seen, but much of their rhetoric lately seems to be slanted against the effort to re-elect incumbent senators David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler, who both stand as the U.S. Constitution's last line of defense from a Pelosi-Harris-Biden triumvirate.

Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the editorial director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist.  His writing, which is focused on cyber-security and politics, has been published by websites including The Hill, Newsmax, The Washington Times, Real Clear Politics, Townhall, American Thinker, and many others.

Image: connor.carey via Wikimedia Commons (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0..