Read the federal judge's ruling denying motion to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots in midterms

A federal judge in Atlanta denied a motion Monday night to force the state of Georgia to switch from electronic touch screen machines to paper ballots for the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Case 1:17-cv-02989-AT Document 309 Filed 09/17/18 Page 1 of 46

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ATLANTA DIVISION
DONNA CURLING, et al.,
Plaintiffs,
v.
BRIAN KEMP, et al.,
Defendants.

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CIVIL ACTION NO.
1:17-CV-2989-AT

ORDER
I.

Introduction a|a|a|a|a|a|a|................................................................

2

II.

Background a|a|a|a|a|a|a|.................................................................

4

III.

Threshold Jurisdictional Issues a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|.

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A. Standing a|a|a|a|a|a|a|.............................................................

16

B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|a|.. 29
IV.
V.

Plaintiffsa Motions for Preliminary Injunction a|a|a|a|a|a|a|.. 31
Conclusion a|a|a|a|a|a|a|...................................................................

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I.

Introduction
This case involves colliding election and voting rights dynamics and

dilemmas. The State of Georgia Defendants have delayed in grappling with the
heightened critical cybersecurity issues of our era posed for the Stateas dated,
vulnerable voting system that provides no independent paper audit trail. The
Plaintiffs did not bring their preliminary injunction motions in a sufficient time
span to allow for thoughtful, though expedited, remedial relief, despite the
important, substantive content of their evidentiary submissions in connection with
their preliminary injunction motions. There are no easy answers to the conflicts
posed here. In a democracy, citizens want to be assured of the integrity of the
voting process, that their ballots are properly counted and not diluted by
inaccurate or manipulated counting, and that the privacy of their votes and
personal information required for voter registration is maintained. But citizens
also depend on the orderly operation of the electoral and voting process. Lastminute, wholesale changes in the voting process operating in over 2,600 precincts,
along with scheduled early voting arrangements, could predictably run the voting
process and voter participation amuck. Transparency and accountability are, at
the very least, essential to addressing the significant issues that underlie this case.
Currently before the Court in this matter are Defendantsa motions to dismiss
[Docs. 82, 83, 234] and Plaintiffsa more recently filed motions for preliminary
injunction [Docs. 258, 260, 271]. Given the time sensitivity of Plaintiffsa motions
with respect to the upcoming November 2018 elections, the Court held an extended
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full-day hearing on Plaintiffsa motions on September 12, 2018 as well as the
threshold jurisdictional issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity
raised in Defendantsa motions to dismiss.1 The Court, out of an abundance of
caution, addressed the issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity first
and determined whether it could properly exercise jurisdiction over this case
before considering Plaintiffsa request for emergency injunctive relief. After hearing
argument on these issues, the Court announced orally its determination that it
could properly exercise jurisdiction for purposes of proceeding with the hearing on
Plaintiffsa preliminary injunction motions. The Court further announced that a
written order would follow setting forth more specifically the basis for this finding.
Accordingly, this Order addresses issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment
immunity as well as Plaintiffsa motions for preliminary injunction.

Defendantsa motions to dismiss also raise other non-jurisdictional arguments that Plaintiffs have
failed to state viable claims for relief and that their claims are barred by res judicata and collateral
estoppel. The Court notes that only Fulton County Defendants move to dismiss based on
collateral estoppel; the State Defendants do not move on this basis. With respect to res judicata
and collateral estoppel in particular, Plaintiffs have effectively argued at this stage that their
current claims are not barred. Moreover, even if a few Plaintiffs were deemed estopped, it appears
that at least some Plaintiffs would still proceed with their claims. The Court will more fully
address these and all other issues raised in Defendantsa motions to dismiss in a separate,
subsequent order.
1

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II.

Background2
In their complaints, their motions for preliminary injunction, and their

presentations during the September 12th hearing, Plaintiffs 3 paint an unsettling
picture of the vulnerabilities of Georgiaas voting system along with the recent,
increased, and real threats of malicious intrusion and manipulation of the system
and voter data by nation states and cyber savvy individuals.
Plaintiffs start by describing Georgiaas voting system. The system relies on
the use of Direct Recording Electronic voting machines (aDREsa) for electors to
cast their votes in public elections. This computer voting equipment is used in
tandem with the Stateas Global Election Management Systems (aGEMSa) server
and County GEMS servers that communicate voting data.4 DRE touchscreen
computer voting machines are located at polling stations in every precinct during
elections and are otherwise stored in various county facilities throughout the state.
Electors use DRE machines if they are voting early and in-person with absentee
ballots or if they are voting in-person on election day. aThe voting machines are

This section provides a brief factual summary based on the allegations in the Curling Plaintiffsa
Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 70), the Coalition Plaintiffsa Third Amended Complaint (Doc.
226), the Curling Plaintiffsa Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 260), the Coalition Plaintiffsa
Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 258), information presented during the September 12,
2018 hearing, and supplemental affidavits as well as Defendantsa responses to Plaintiffsa filings.
3 There are two sets of Plaintiffs in this case represented by separate counsel. Donna Curling,
Donna Price, and Jeffrey Schoenberg are referred to as the aCurling Plaintiffs.a The Coalition for
Good Governance (aCGGa), Laura Digges, William Digges III, Ricardo Davis, and Megan Missett
are referred to as the aCoalition Plaintiffs.a
4 A related software program is used to create the ExpressPoll pollbooks providing confidential
voter identification information by precinct. Poll workers access this data by computer to verify
voter registration and to create the DRE Voter Access Card that activates the specific electronic
ballot on the DRE machine that should be linked to the voteras address.
2

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computers with reprogrammable software.a (Halderman Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 AP
16.) The DRE machines record votes electronically on a removable memory card,
and each card is later fed into the county GEMS server to tabulate the vote totals
by candidate and the results of other ballot questions. When the polls have closed,
poll workers prompt the DRE machines to internally tally the electronic total
number of votes and print a paper tape of the vote totals per machine.
Most significantly, the DREs do not create a paper trail or any other means
by which to independently verify or audit the recording of each electoras vote. i.e.,
the actual ballot selections made by the elector for either the electoras review or for
audit purposes.

Instead, at the hearing, Dr. Alex Halderman, a Professor of

Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the Center for Computer
Security and Society at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, discussed and
demonstrated how a malware virus can be introduced into the DRE machine by
insertion of an infected memory card (or by other sources) and alter the votes cast
without detection.5 Dr. Halderman gave a live demonstration in Court with a
Diebold DRE using the same type of equipment and software as that used in
Georgia. The demonstration showed that although the same total number of votes
were cast, the contaminated memory cardas malware changed the actual votes cast
between candidates. There was no means of detection of this as the amalware
modified all of the vote records, audit logs, and protective counters stored by the

Dr. Haldermanas affidavit provides additional detail and context related to his testimony. (Doc.
260-2.)
5

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machine, so that even careful forensic examination of the files would find nothing
amiss.a (Halderman Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 AP 19.) The DRE machineas paper tape
simply confirmed the same total number of votes, including the results of the
manipulated or altered votes. Viruses and malware have also been developed by
cyber specialists that can spread the avote stealing malware automatically and
silently from machine to machine during normal pre- and post-election activities,a
as the cards are used to interface with the County and State GEMS servers. (Id. AP
20.)
Other cybersecurity elections experts have shared in Professor Haldermanas
observations of the data manipulation and detection concealment capacity of such
malware or viruses, as well as the ability to access the voting system via a variety
of entry points. Plaintiffs filed affidavits in the record for several of these experts.6
Professor Wenke Lee (Professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech and a
member of a new study commission convened by the Secretary of State) also
prepared a PowerPoint presentation summary on the topic for the Commission
that identified this malware detection and manipulation capacity. (Pl. Ex 5,
Preliminary Injunction Hearing.) Professor Haldermanas analysis of the severe
limitations of the alogic and accuracya and aparallel testinga auditing processes
used by Georgia to test ballot counting are summarized in his affidavit and will be

See DeMillo Affidavit, Doc. 277, Ex. C; Buell Affidavit, Doc. 260-3; Stark Affidavit, Doc. 296-1;
Bernhard Affidavit, Doc. 258-1 at 33-42. Professor DeMillo, who also testified at the hearing, is
the Chair of Computer Science at Georgia Tech and has served as Dean of the College of
Computing at Georgia Tech and as Director of the Georgia Tech Center for Information Security.
6

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discussed later. (Doc. 260-2 at APAP 37-48.) Suffice it to say, at this juncture, that
national- and state-commissioned research-based studies by cybersecurity
computer scientists and elections experts consistently indicate that an
independent record of an electoras physical ballot is essential as a reliable audit
confirmation tool.
The DREs record individual ballot data in the order in which they are cast,
and they assign a unique serial number and timestamp to each ballot. This design
for recording ballots, according to Plaintiffs, makes it possible to match the ballots
to the electors who cast them. Additionally, the Georgia DREs use versions of
Windows and BallotStation (developed in 2005) software, both of which are out of
date a to the point that the makers of the software no longer support these versions
or provide security patches for them. (Halderman Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 APAP 24-28.)
The DRE machines and related election software are all the product of Premier
Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems. A large volume
of the voting machines were purchased when the DRE initiative was first
implemented in the 2002 to 2004 period in Georgia.
Statewide, Georgia uses its central GEMS server at the Secretary of State's
offices to build the ballots for each election for each county. 7 The central GEMS
server communicates the election programming and other files onto the memory
cards before an election. From 2002 to December 2017, the Secretary of State

The ballot software also programs the location of candidates and other ballot options on the
touchscreens of the DRE machines. Ballot adaptations, thus, are created for 159 counties and
their over 2,600 precincts.
7

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contracted with Kennesaw State University to maintain the central server for the
State at a unit in the University called the Center for Election Services (aCESa).
Plaintiffs allege that the central server was accessible via the internet for a time a
at least between August 2016 and March 2017.
In August 2016, Logan Lamb, a professional cybersecurity expert in Georgia,
went to CESas public website and discovered that he was able to access key election
system files, including multiple gigabytes of data and thousands of files with
private elector information. The information included electorsa driveras license
numbers, birth dates, full home addresses, the last four digits of their Social
Security numbers, and more. Mr. Lamb was also able to access, for at least 15
counties, the election management databases from the GEMS central tabulator
used to create ballot definitions, program memory cards, and tally and store and
report all votes. He also was able to access passwords for polling place supervisors
to operate the DREs and make administrative corrections to the DREs.
Immediately, Mr. Lamb alerted Merle King, the Executive Director overseeing
CES, of the systemas vulnerabilities. The State did not take any remedial action
after Mr. King was alerted.
In February 2017, a cybersecurity colleague of Mr. Lambas, Chris Grayson,
was able to repeat what Mr. Lamb had done earlier and access key election
information. Mr. Lamb also found, around this time, that he could still access and
download the information as he had before. On March 1, 2017, Mr. Grayson
notified a colleague at Kennesaw State University about the systemas
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vulnerabilities, and this led to notification of Mr. King again. Days later, the FBI
was alerted and took possession of the CES server.
The Secretary of State has since shut down the CES and moved the central
server internally within the Secretaryas office. But on July 7, 2017, four days after
this lawsuit was originally filed in Fulton Superior Court, all data on the hard drives
of the Universityas aelections.kennesaw.edua server was destroyed. And on August
9, 2017, less than a day after this action was removed to this Court, all data on the
hard drives of a secondary server a which contained similar information to the
aelections.kennesaw.edua server a was also destroyed. As discussed more fully
later in this Order, the State offered little more than a one-sentence response to
these data system incursions and vulnerabilities at CES.
The Premier/Diebold voting machine models at issue have been the subject
of comprehensive critical review both by university computer engineer security
experts independently as well as under the auspices of the States of Maryland,
California, and Ohio. These studies identified serious security vulnerabilities in
the software and resulted in the three statesa adoption of different voting systems.
(Halderman Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 APAP 17-23; see also Atkeson Affidavit, Doc. 276-1
APAP 8-9 (also discussing the states of New Mexico and Virginia transitioning away
from DREs after identifying several issues with the machines).)8

By contrast, the Secretary of State certified in April 2018 the accuracy and safety of the Georgia
DRE system. This certification was based on a pre-announced examination of voting facilities
and the conducting of a tiny mock election in several Georgia counties on November 27-29, 2017
by a combination of staff from the Secretary of Stateas Office and the Center for Election Services
at Kennesaw State University. (Def. Ex. 2 from Preliminary Injunction Hearing.) No
8

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Plaintiffs point to several national authorities which, in the last year, have
raised the alarm about U.S. election security a and particularly about the use of
DREs in elections.

For instance, in March 2018, the Secretary of the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared DRE voting systems to be a
anational security concern,a (Coalition Complaint, Doc. 258-1 at 10 n. 3) a
approximately 14 months after the Department declared election systems to be
acritical infrastructurea pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ASS 5195c.9 (U.S. Department of
Homeland

Security, aDHS

Cybersecurity Services

Catalog for

Election

Infrastructure,a at 3.)10 In May 2018, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
concluded that DREs are aat highest risk of security flawsa and that states ashould
rapidly replace outdated and vulnerable voting systemsa with systems that have a
verified paper trail. (Id. at 11 n. 5.) And on September 6, 2018, after it was
commissioned to consider the future of voting in the United States, the National
Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine11 and associated National

cybersecurity experts or computer engineering scientists are listed as participants in this review.
There is no indication in the description of the examination that any effort was made to go beyond
a simple running of the equipment and observation of election procedures to reach this
determination. In other words, there is no indication that any effort was made to evaluate the
trove of software and data security and accuracy issues identified in studies performed on behalf
of other states or by cybersecurity and computer engineers in the field.
9 Critical infrastructure is defined as asystems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to
the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a
debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or
any combination of those matters.a Section 5195c(b) of the Critical Infrastructures Protection Act
makes clear that information systems and their interdependence constitute a central concern of
Congress.
10 See https://www.eac.gov/assets/1/6/DHS_Cybersecurity_Services_Catalog_for_Election_Infrastructure.pdf.
11 Congress established the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 1863
as an independent body, which has the obligation to provide scientific and technical advice to any
department of the Government upon request and without compensation.
See

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Research Council (aNASa) issued a consensus report about the need to secure and
improve state and local election systems.12 The report, titled aSecuring the Vote:
Protecting American Democracy,a made a number of recommendations, including
that a[e]very effort should be made to use human-readable paper ballots in the
2018 federal election.a (Doc. 285-1 at 35.) The report further recommended that
voting machines that do not produce paper audit trails for each electoras vote
ashould be removed from service as soon as possiblea and that each state ashould
require a comprehensive system of post-election audits of processes and
outcomes.a (Id. at 35-36.)
Similarly, the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Elections Assistance
Commission (EAC) passed a resolution in 2018 recommending that the EAC anot
certify any system that does not use voter-verifiable paper as the official record of
voter intent.a13
Dr. Wenke Lee, Professor of Computer Science at Georgia Tech University
and Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Information Security a the sole
computer scientist appointed to the Secretary of Stateas new Secure Accessible Fair
Elections (aSAFEa) Commission a has echoed these same paper ballot and audit

http://www.nasonline.org/about-nas/leadership/governing-documents/act-ofincorporation.html.
12 As noted by Professor Richard A. DeMillo in his supplemental affidavit, aa consensus report of
the NAS . . . represents the highest authority that the U.S. Government can rely upon when it seeks
to be advised on matters of science, technology and engineering.a (Doc. 285-1 AP 9.)
13 See discussion of EAC action and audit outcome issues in the affidavit of Philip B. Stark,
Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and faculty
member in Graduate Program in Computational Data Science and Engineering at University of
California, Berkeley. (Doc. 296 APAP 20-25.)

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verification recommendations in his August 30, 2018 presentation on
cybertechnology to the Commission. He has also stressed the essential need for
installation on an ongoing basis of new hardware and software components
designed to provide security protection to ensure voting system security. (Pl. Ex.
5, Preliminary Injunction Hearing.)
In the midst of the events involving the breach of the CES at Kennesaw State
University, Plaintiffs filed the current case against Defendants14 in August 2017.
Plaintiffs essentially claim that the DRE voting system in Georgia is unsecure, is
unverifiable, and compromises the privacy and accuracy of their votes, and
therefore they claim that Defendantsa continued use of the DRE system violates
their constitutional rights. A brief overview of the particular claims brought by
each set of Plaintiffs is instructive here.
The Coalition Plaintiffs bring two federal claims in their Third Amended
Complaint:
(1) a 42 U.S.C. ASS 1983 claim for violation of the Fourteenth Amendmentas
guarantee of due process, based on the substantial burden placed on their
fundamental right to vote; and

Defendants are largely classified in two groups: (1) the aState Defendants,a which include Brian
Kemp in his official capacity, the State Election Board, and members of the State Election Board
(David J. Worley, Rebecca N. Sullivan, Ralph F. Simpson, and Seth Harp) in their official
capacities; and (2) the aFulton County Defendants,a which include Richard Barron in his official
capacity, the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections, and members of the Fulton
County Board of Registration and Elections (Mary Carole Cooney, Vernetta Nuriddin, David J.
Burge, and Aaron Johnson) in their official capacities.
14

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(2) a 42 U.S.C. ASS 1983 claim for violation of the Fourteenth Amendmentas
guarantee of equal protection, based on the more severe burdens placed on the
Plaintiffsa right to vote, right to freedom of speech and association, and the Georgia
constitutional right to a secret ballot15 as a result of Plaintiffs choosing to vote by
DRE relative to other similarly situated electors choosing to vote another way.
For each of these claims, the Coalition Plaintiffs seek declaratory and
injunctive relief against Brian P. Kemp in his official capacity as the Secretary of
State of Georgia and as Chairperson of the State Election Board; the members of
the State Election Board (David J. Worley, Rebecca N. Sullivan, Ralph F. aRustya
Simpson, and Seth Harp) in their official capacities; and the members of the Fulton
County Board of Registration and Elections (Mary Carole Cooney, Vernetta
Nuriddin, David J. Burge, Stan Matarazzo, and Aaron Johnson) in their official
capacities. The Coalition Plaintiffsa Third Amended Complaint seeks a range of
relief that is broader than their Motion for Preliminary Injunction now before the
Court. Specifically, the Coalition Plaintiffsa Third Amended Complaint seeks the
following:
aC/ A court order declaring it unconstitutional to conduct public elections
using any DRE model,

The Coalition Plaintiffs clarify, in their Response to the State Defendantsa Motion to Dismiss,
that they are not bringing a state-law claim for violation of the Georgia Constitution. They are
instead bringing a federal ASS 1983 claim based on unequal enforcement of state law.
15

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aC/ An injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing O.C.G.A. ASS 21-2383(b)16 and Georgia State Election Board Rule 183a1a12a.0117 and from
requiring voters to cast votes using DREs,
aC/ An injunction prohibiting Defendants from conducting public elections
with optical scanned paper ballots without also requiring post-election
audits of paper ballots to verify the results, and
aC/ An injunction prohibiting Defendants from conducting public elections
without also requiring subordinate election officials to allow meaningful
public observation of all stages of election processing.
The Curling Plaintiffs bring essentially the same two constitutional claims as
those brought by the Coalition Plaintiffs.

As a slight variation, the Curling

Plaintiffs bring their constitutional claims against the Defendants listed above as
well as one additional defendant: Richard Barron in his official capacity as the
Director of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections. The Curling

aNotwithstanding any other provision of this Code section, in jurisdictions in which direct
recording electronic (DRE) voting systems are used at the polling places on election day, such
direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems shall be used for casting absentee ballots in
person at a registraras or absentee ballot clerkas office or in accordance with Code Section 21-2382, providing for additional sites.a O.C.G.A. ASS 21-2-383(b).
17 aBeginning with the November 2002 General Election, all federal, state, and county general
primaries and elections, special primaries and elections, and referendums in the State of Georgia
shall be conducted at the polls through the use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting units
supplied by the Secretary of State or purchased by the counties with the authorization of the
Secretary of State. In addition, absentee balloting shall be conducted through the use of optical
scan ballots which shall be tabulated on optical scan vote tabulation systems furnished by the
Secretary of State or purchased by the counties with the authorization of the Secretary of State;
provided, however, that the use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting units is authorized by
the Secretary of State for persons desiring to vote by absentee ballot in person.a Ga. Comp. R. &
Regs. r. 183a1a12a.01.
16

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Plaintiffs also seek somewhat varied relief for these claims in their Second
Amended Complaint:
aC/ A court order declaring that Defendants violated the Fourteenth
Amendment, and
aC/ An injunction prohibiting Defendants from using DREs or other voting
equipment that fails to satisfy state requirements.18
As stated above, both sets of Plaintiffs seek more limited and immediate
relief in their motions for preliminary injunction. The Curling Plaintiffs ask the
Court to order the following relief prior to the November 2018 general election: (1)
enjoin the State Defendants to direct all counties that the use of DREs in the
November 2018 election (and the December 2018 runoff election) is prohibited,
with the exception for electors with disabilities; (2) enjoin the State Defendants to
direct all counties to conduct elections using paper ballots; and (3) require the
State Defendants to promulgate rules requiring and specifying appropriate
procedures for conducting manual audits of election results.

Similarly, the

Coalition Plaintiffs ask the Court to: (1) prohibit Defendants from conducting the
November 2018 election (and the December 2018 runoff election) with DRE

Additionally, the Curling Plaintiffs bring a state-law claim under O.C.G.A. ASS 9-6-20 for a writ of
mandamus ordering Defendants to discontinue the use of DRE machines and to either use (a) an
optical scanning voting system or (b) hand-counted paper ballots. The Curling Plaintiffs seek a
writ of mandamus against the following Defendants: the members of the State Election Board in
their official capacities; the State Election Board; Richard Barron in his official capacity as the
Director of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections; the members of the Fulton
County Board of Registration and Elections in their official capacities; and the Fulton County
Board of Registration and Elections.
18

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machines for in-person voting; (2) order Defendants to conduct such elections
using paper ballots, as permitted by Georgia law, with certain exceptions made for
persons with disabilities; (3) order the State Election Board Members to
promulgate rules requiring and specifying appropriate procedures for conducting
manual audits of election results; and (4) order the Secretary of State, before
October 1, 2018, to audit and correct any identified errors in the DRE systemas
electronic pollbook data that will be used in both such elections.
The Court now turns to the jurisdictional issues raised in Defendantsa
motion to dismiss before addressing the Plaintiffsa motions for preliminary
injunction.
III.

Threshold Jurisdictional Issues
A. Standing
The State Defendants argue that both the Curling Plaintiffs and the Coalition

Plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims in federal court. According to the State
Defendants, Plaintiffs fail to establish each of the three elements required for
standing. The Fulton County Defendantsa Motion to Dismiss incorporates by
reference the State Defendantsa arguments on standing. (See Fulton Mot. to
Dismiss, Doc. 82-1 at 5.)
The Supreme Court has set forth the standard for determining whether a
party has standing:
It is by now well settled that the irreducible constitutional minimum
of standing contains three elements. First, the plaintiff must have
suffered an injury in factaan invasion of a legally protected interest
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that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not
conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be a causal connection
between the injury and the conduct complained of. . . . Third, it must
be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be
redressed by a favorable decision.
United States v. Hays, 515 U.S. 737, 742a43 (1995) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders
of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560a561 (1992)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
a[A] plaintiff must demonstrate standing for each claim he seeks to press and for
each form of relief that is sought.a Town of Chester, N.Y. v. Laroe Estates, Inc.,
137 S. Ct. 1645, 1650 (2017) (quoting Davis v. Federal Election Comman, 554 U.S.
724, 734 (2008)).
As to the first element, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have not
sufficiently alleged a concrete ainjury in fact.a Defendants argue that Plaintiffsa
allegations that the DRE voting machines are vulnerable to hacking and are
apresumed to be compromiseda convey only a speculative, generalized fear, thus
falling short of establishing a concrete injury.
These arguments are unavailing. For one, Plaintiffs have alleged that the
DRE voting system was actually accessed or hacked multiple times already a albeit
by cybersecurity experts who reported the systemas vulnerabilities to state
authorities, as opposed to someone with nefarious purposes. (Curling Complaint,
Doc. 70 APAP 42-43, 45-49; Coalition Complaint, Doc. 226 APAP 95-106.) Contrary to
Defendantsa characterizations, Plaintiffsa allegations are not premised on a

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theoretical notion or aunfounded feara19 of the hypothetical apossibilitya that
Georgiaas voting system might be hacked or improperly accessed and used.
Plaintiffs allege that harm has in fact occurred, specifically to their fundamental
right to participate in an election process that accurately and reliably records their
votes and protects the privacy of their votes and personal information. (Curling
Complaint, Doc. 70 AP 14 (aCurling also chose to exercise her right to cast her vote
using a verifiable paper ballot in the Runoff, so as to ensure that her vote would be
permanently recorded on an independent record. To do so, Curling persisted
through considerable inconvenience a only to be incorrectly told by Defendants
Kemp and the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections that she had not,
in fact, cast a ballot, creating irreparable harm that her ballot was not counted.a);
AP 16 (Donna Price acast her vote on a DRE in the 2016 General Election,a and
a[w]ithout the intervention of this Court, Price will be compelled to choose between
relinquishing her right to vote and acquiescing to cast her vote under a system that
violates her right to vote in absolute secrecy and have her vote accurately
counteda); AP 38 (aDREs produce neither a paper trail nor any other means by which
the records of votes cast can be audited.a); APAP 42-43 (aLamb was able to access key
components of Georgiaas electronic election infrastructure . . . . In accessing these
election system files, Lamb found a startling amount of private information,a
including driveras license numbers, birth dates, and the last four digits of Social

See State Defendantsa Motion to Dismiss Coalition Plaintiffsa Third Amended Complaint, Doc.
234-1 at 1.
19

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Security numbers); Coalition Complaint, Doc. 226 AP 152 (member of CGG, Brian
Blosser, awas prohibited from voting on April 18, 2017 . . . when his name did not
appear on the eligible voter rollsa for the Sixth Congressional District and awas
instead erroneously listeda as a resident of another district, an error that Fulton
County Board members blamed on a asoftware glitcha); AP 154 (members of CGG,
Mr. and Ms. Digges, previously in 2017 achose to vote by mail-in paper absentee
ballot because they were aware that an electronic ballot cast using an AccuVote
DRE was insecure,a and they awere required to undergo the inconvenience of
requesting paper ballot[s] and the cost of postage to mail their ballotsa awell before
Election Daya); AP 72 (aGeorgiaas AccuVote DREs do not record a paper or other
independent verifiable record of the voteras selections.a); AP 92 (a[D]esign flaws
render the electronic ballots cast on AccuVote DREs capable of being matched to
voter records maintained by pollworkers and pollwatchers,a and thereby expose
citizensa candidate selections to poll workers); AP 97 (aLamb freely accessed files
hosted on the aelections.kennesaw.edua server, including the voter histories and
personal information of all Georgia voters . . . . Lamb noted that the files had been
publicly exposed for so long that Google had cached (i.e., saved digital backup
copies of) and published the pages containing many of them.a); AP 138 (aFulton
Board Members have adopted voting procedures under which individual electronic
ballots bearing a unique identifier are transmitted from Fulton Countyas AccuVote
DREs located in satellite voting centers to Fulton Countyas central GEMS
tabulation server in clear text (i.e., unencrypted) over an ordinary, unsecured
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telephone line on Election Night. This practice violates fundamental security
principles because it subjects the transmitted votes to manipulation (such as manin-the-middle interception and substitution of votes) and exposes the votes with
their unique identifier to third-party interception, violating votersa rights of secrecy
in voting.a).)
Plaintiffs also allege the threat of future harm. For instance, in upcoming
elections, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are requiring them to vote early, mail a
paper absentee ballot, and pay for postage to avoid having to use unsecure DRE
machines, thereby subjecting them to unequal treatment. Furthermore, Plaintiffs
plausibly allege a threat of a future hacking event that would jeopardize their votes
and the voting system at large. Despite being aware of election system and data
cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities identified by national authorities and the
DRE systemas vulnerability to hacking as early as August 2016 a when Logan
Lamb, the computer scientist, first alerted the Stateas Executive Director of the CES
of his ability to access the system a Defendants allegedly have not taken steps to
secure the DRE system from such attacks. (Curling Complaint, Doc. 70 AP 46
(a[N]ot only did Georgia fail to take remedial action when alerted to the problem
Lamb raised, it failed to act even in the face of the detailed information on the
cybersecurity threats facing the nationas election systems, and the recommended
specific steps to reduce the risk, which were disseminated by the FBI, the DHS and

20

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the EAC20.a); Coalition Complaint, Doc. 226 AP 112 (a[N]o efforts have been made
to remediate the compromised software programs and machines or to identify and
remove any malware that was likely introduced during the lengthy security
breaches referred to herein on the aelections.kennesaw.edua server that hosted the
election-specific software applications and data that are re-installed on every piece
of voting and tabulation equipment used to conduct Georgiaas elections in advance
of each election conducted using Georgiaas Voting System.a).)
Importantly, courts have recognized these sorts of alleged harms as concrete
injuries, sufficient to confer standing.

In particular, courts have found that

plaintiffs have standing to bring Due Process and Equal Protection claims where
they alleged that their votes would likely be improperly counted based on the use
of certain voting technology. See, e.g., Stewart v. Blackwell, 444 F.3d 843, 855
(6th Cir. 2006) (aThe increased probability that their votes will be improperly
counted based on punch-card and central-count optical scan technology is neither
speculative nor remote.a), vacated (July 21, 2006), superseded, 473 F.3d 692 (6th
Cir. 2007) (vacated and superseded on the grounds that the case was rendered
moot by the countyas subsequent abandonment of the DRE machines at issue);
Banfield v. Cortes, 922 A.2d 36, 44 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007) (finding that the
plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged standing under similar Pennsylvania law, based
on athe fact that Electors have no way of knowing whether the votes they cast on a

DHS is the acronym for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and EAC is the acronym
for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
20

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DRE have been recorded and will be counted,a which agives Electors a direct and
immediate interest in the outcome of this litigationa); c.f. Stein v. Cortes, 223 F.
Supp. 3d 423, 432-33 (E.D. Pa. 2016) (where plaintiffs sought a vote recount, postelection, based on the use of unsecure DREs, finding no standing based on the
plaintiffsa aless than cleara allegations that the DRE machines are ahackablea; that
the Pennsylvania Election Codeas recount provisions are alabyrinthine,
incomprehensible, and impossibly burdensomea; and that the past vote count was
inaccurate a which plaintiffs merely posed as a aseemingly rhetorical questiona).
Turning to causal connection, the second element of standing, Defendants
raise different arguments in response to the Curling Plaintiffsa claims versus the
Coalition Plaintiffsa claims. For the Curling Plaintiffs, Defendants argue that any
injury would be traced to illegal hacking into the DREs, not the use of the DREs
themselves. Here, as discussed above, the Curling Plaintiffs have alleged that
Defendants were aware of serious security breaches in the DRE voting system and
failed to take adequate steps to address those breaches. Notably, even after Mr.
Lamb first alerted the State about his access of the voting system, he and another
cybersecurity expert were able to access the system again about six months later.
(Curling Complaint, Doc. 70 AP 47.)

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have

continued to fail to take action to remedy the DRE systemas vulnerabilities. (Id. APAP
46, 61, 62, 72.) And they allege that this failure, in turn, impacts the integrity of
the voting system and their ability as citizens to rely upon it when casting votes in
this system. (Id.) At the motion to dismiss stage, these allegations plausibly show
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causal connection, even if indirectly, between Defendantsa continued use of
unsecure DREs and the injury to Plaintiffsa constitutional rights. Focus on the
Family v. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Auth., 344 F.3d 1263, 1273 (11th Cir. 2003)
(a[E]ven harms that flow indirectly from the action in question can be said to be
afairly traceablea to that action . . . .a).
For the Coalition Plaintiffs, Defendants make the same argument above
regarding causation (which fails) and another slightly different argument.
Defendants take issue with the Coalition Plaintiffsa request for relief enjoining the
State Defendants from enforcing O.C.G.A. ASS 21-2-383(b) and State Election Board
Rule 183a1a12a.01. Defendants assert that the State Defendants (the Secretary
and the State Election Board) do not mandate the use of DREs; rather, state law
requires the use of DREs. Defendants maintain that the State Defendants are
merely implementing the governing state law, which they are bound to do, and
therefore Plaintiffs miss the mark by seeking to enjoin the State Defendantsa
actions instead of challenging the state law itself. In this way, Defendants argue
that Plaintiffs have not linked their injury to any action by the State Defendants.
But O.C.G.A. ASS 21-2-383(b) does not require the use of DREs as Defendants
claim it does. The statute requires absentee electors who vote in-person in the
advance voting period to vote by DRE, but only ain jurisdictions in which direct
recording electronic (DRE) voting systems are used at the polling places on
election day.a

The statute simply specifies the use of DREs under certain

circumstances. Rather, it is the State Election Board that issued a rule requiring
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the use of DREs in aall federal, state, and county general primaries and elections,
special primaries and elections, and referendums,a and requiring the use of DREs
by apersons desiring to vote by absentee ballot in person.a Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r.
183a1a12a.01. When read together, the state statute and the State Election Board
rule indicate that the State Defendants have chosen to enforce state law so as to
generally require the use of DREs in elections statewide.
Even apart from the statutory language, the Coalition Plaintiffs have
plausibly alleged that the State Defendants play a critical role in directing,
implementing, programming, and supporting the DRE system throughout the
state. The Coalition Plaintiffs allege that the Secretary provided the counties with
the DRE machines and the software on which they operate. (Coalition Complaint,
Doc. 226 AP 59.) Additionally, from 2002 to December 2017, the Secretary allegedly
contracted with Kennesaw State University to create the Center for Election
Services (aCESa) ato assist the Secretary in the fulfillment of his statutory duties to
manage Georgiaas election system.a (Id. AP 93.) The CES maintained a central
computer server containing sensitive voting-related information such as software
applications, voter registration information, ballot building files, and aother
sensitive information critical to the safe and secure operation of Georgiaas Voting
System.a (Id. APAP 94, 119.) These factual allegations, when considered with the
Third Amended Complaint as a whole, show that the Coalition Plaintiffs have
alleged enough of a causal link between the State Defendantsa conduct and their
injury for standing purposes.
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Finally, on the third element of redressability, Defendants raise some of the
same arguments as they do for the second element. Defendants argue that an
injunction prohibiting the State Defendants from using DREs would not actually
stop the deployment of DREs. Defendants maintain that county officials not
included in this suit would continue to use DREs, as the State is not the entity that
enforces the law requiring DREs. Defendants also argue that a different balloting
system would not eliminate potential third-party interference, as no election
system is flawless.
As stated above, the Court finds that the Coalition Plaintiffs have sufficiently
alleged that the State Defendants play a significant role in the continued use and
security of DREs, and therefore the requested injunction would help redress some
of the Coalition Plaintiffsa injury. The Secretary of State both has the authority and
obligation to investigate complaints regarding the accuracy and safety of the DRE
voting system and to take appropriate corrective action in connection with the
continued use of the DRE system. O.C.G.A. ASS 21-2-379.2. The Third Amended
Complaint describes how the Secretary of State could play a critical role in
conducting an in-depth investigation and formulating a remedy. As alleged in the
Complaint, the State of California commissioned a study in 2007 to examine the
security of its own Diebold AccuVote DRE system, the same type of system used in
Georgia. Upon the studyas findings that the DRE system was inadequate, had
serious design flaws, and was susceptible to hacking, Californiaas Secretary of State
then decertified its DRE system in 2009. (Coalition Complaint, Doc. 226 APAP 81,
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84, 86.) The Complaint similarly alleges that the Secretary of State for Ohio
commissioned an independent expert study of a newer version of the DREs than
those used in Georgia and reached similar conclusions as to the lack of trustworthy
design and vulnerability to attack of the election system. (Id. APAP 81, 83, 85.)
The State Defendants here are similarly in a position to redress the Plaintiffsa
alleged injury. Thus, if the Court were to grant at least part of the requested
injunctive relief as to the suspended use of the DRE voting system, any injunction
would likely enjoin both the State Defendants as well as the Fulton County
Defendants (as there is no argument that the County would not be enjoined).
Furthermore, as to Defendantsa argument that no election system is flawless, the
Coalition Plaintiffs rightly point out that this is not the standard for redressability.
Plaintiffs are seeking relief to address a particular voting system which, as
currently implemented, is allegedly recognized on a national level to be unsecure
and susceptible to manipulation by advanced persistent threats through nation
state or non-state actors. Plaintiffs are not asking for a system impervious to all
flaws or glitches.
Defendants assert three additional arguments related to standing: that the
Coalition Plaintiffs cannot manufacture standing by inflicting harm on themselves,
that the individual Plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance (aCGGa) lacks
organizational and associational standing, and that Plaintiffs must reside in the
jurisdiction for which they seek to enjoin DRE use.

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The first of these arguments fails because the cases relied on by Defendants
are distinguishable. Here, the Coalition Plaintiffs are suffering injury from the
voluntary exercise of their fundamental right to vote, not from just any sort of
activity that they decide to engage in. In Clapper v. Amnesty International USA,
568 U.S. 398 (2013), the plaintiffs voluntarily spent money to take certain
protective measures, based on a hypothetical fear of being subject to surveillance.
And in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992), the plaintiffs expressed
an intent to voluntarily return to certain places they had visited before, which
would deprive them of the opportunity to observe animals of an endangered
species. These activities do not invoke the protection associated with exercising
fundamental rights, such as the right to vote. The Coalition Plaintiffs aptly point
out that Defendantsa logic would bar many voting rights cases, based on individuals
choosing to vote by one method or another, which certainly is not how courts have
assessed standing in this context.
Defendantsa challenge of CGGas standing similarly fails. aAn organization
has standing to enforce the rights of its members when its members would
otherwise have standing to sue in their own right, the interests at stake are
germane to the organizationas purpose, and neither the claim asserted nor the relief
requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.a Fla.
State Conference of N.A.A.C.P. v. Browning, 522 F.3d 1153, 1160 (11th Cir. 2008)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The State Defendants argue that the Coalition
Plaintiffs merely apresumea harm to their own members, without sufficiently
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alleging harm to one or more of their members. (State Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. 2341 at 31.) They also argue that CGG cannot assert that individuals are amembersa
merely because they are listed on CGGas mailing list. (Id.) The Coalition Plaintiffs,
however, have alleged that the individual Plaintiffs a Laura Digges, William Digges
III, Ricardo Davis, and Megan Missett a are all members of CGG. Contrary to
Defendantsa assertion, these particular Plaintiffs do not allege that they are
members of CGG solely because they are on the mailing list. Furthermore, at least
one of these Plaintiffs also alleges harm to his or her individual rights under the
federal Constitution, as discussed above, so that they could presumably sue
Defendants in their own right. (Coalition Complaint, Doc. 226 APAP 24-27.) The
Court finds these allegations sufficient to confer associational standing to CGG.21
As for Defendantsa argument that Plaintiffs must reside in the county where
they seek injunctive relief, this argument misses the mark. The Court need only
find that one plaintiff (from each of the two sets of Plaintiffs) has sufficiently
alleged standing, and that is the case here. Am. Civil Liberties Union of Fla., Inc.
v. Miami-Dade Cty. Sch. Bd., 557 F.3d 1177, 1195 (11th Cir. 2009) (aBecause Balzli
has standing to raise those claims, we need not decide whether either of the
organizational plaintiffs also has standing to do so.a). Specifically, the Curling
Plaintiffs allege that Donna Curling is a resident of Fulton County and intends to
vote in the upcoming elections in Fulton County. (Curling Complaint, Doc. 70 AP

The Court need not reach Defendantsa challenge to CGGas organizational standing, as the Court
has already found the Coalition Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged associational standing for CGG. See
Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups, 554 F.3d 1340, 1351 (11th Cir. 2009).
21

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13.) The Coalition Plaintiffs likewise allege that Megan Missett is a resident of
Fulton County who intends to vote in the Countyas upcoming elections. (Coalition
Complaint, Doc. 226 AP 27.) Based on the current allegations, both Ms. Curling and
Ms. Missett have established the required elements of injury in fact, causation, and
redressability as discussed above.
In sum, the Court finds that both sets of Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged
standing to bring their claims at this juncture.
B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Defendants argue that Plaintiffsa two federal claims are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. Defendants acknowledge the Ex Parte Young22 exception
to Eleventh Amendment immunity, which allows claims against state officers in
their official capacities for prospective injunctive relief. But Defendants assert that
the exception does not apply here for the following reasons: Plaintiffs seek to
enjoin the enforcement of a state law that they do not challenge as
unconstitutional; Plaintiffs have not alleged an ongoing or continuous violation of
federal law; Plaintiffs seek to remedy past, not prospective, conduct; and Plaintiffsa
requested relief implicates special state sovereignty interests.
Defendantsa arguments are meritless. First, Plaintiffs rightly point out that
the Ex Parte Young exception applies to as-applied challenges to state statutes, not
just facial challenges as Defendants imply. Here, Plaintiffs specifically challenge
the application of Georgiaas law by Defendants to require in-person voting by DRE.
22

209 U.S. 123 (1908).

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Second, Plaintiffs clearly allege an ongoing and continuous violation of federal law.
The injunctive relief they request is designed to prevent injury by enjoining the use
of DREs in upcoming elections and other future elections. Third, and likewise,
Plaintiffs seek to remedy prospective harm.23 Fourth, the requested relief does not
implicate special state sovereignty interests by essentially usurping the Stateas role
in regulating elections. Plaintiffs are not asking the Court to direct how the State
counts ballots. They are asking the Court to bar the use of DREs based on the
specific circumstances, history, and data security issues presented in this case and
where the State has alternative options of using optical scanners and hand
counting ballots. And they seek to require the State to implement a fully auditable
ballot system designed to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the voting process
in this challenging era when data system vulnerabilities pose a serious risk of
opening election data, processes, and results to cyber manipulation and attack.
Thus, pursuant to Ex Parte Young, the Court finds that the Eleventh
Amendment does not bar Plaintiffsa federal claims.24
For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that it has jurisdiction at this
juncture for purposes of considering Plaintiffsa motions for preliminary injunction.

Defendantsa arguments opposing Plaintiffsa motions for preliminary injunction belie this
argument, as Defendants claim that the requested injunctive relief, if granted, would harm them
on the eve of the upcoming November 2018 election.
24 At one point, State Defendants cite to cases involving state sovereign immunity issues. The
Court clarifies that state sovereign immunity is not at issue here a only Eleventh Amendment
sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs do not allege violations of the Georgia Constitution. They allege
violations of the U.S. Constitution based in part on the enforcement of state law requiring the use
of DREs for in-person voting. (See SEB Rule 183a1a12a.01.)
23

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The Court therefore DENIES IN PART Defendantsa Motions to Dismiss [Docs.
82, 83, 234] as discussed herein.
IV.

Plaintiffsa Motions for Preliminary Injunction
To obtain preliminary injunctive relief, the moving party must show that: (1)

it has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) irreparable injury will
be suffered unless the injunction issues; (3) the threatened injury to the movant
outweighs whatever damage the proposed injunction may cause the opposing
party; and (4) if issued, the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.
McDonaldas Corp. v. Robertson, 147 F.3d 1301, 1306 (11th Cir. 1998). In the
Eleventh Circuit, a[a] preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic
remedy not to be granted unless the movant clearly established the aburden of
persuasiona as to the four prerequisites.a Id. (internal citations omitted).
Furthermore, the Supreme Court has recognized that there are special
considerations involved with impending elections and the critical issues at stake.
In Reynolds v. Sims, the Court stated:
[O]nce a Stateas [election-related] scheme has been found to be
unconstitutional, it would be the unusual case in which a court would
be justified in not taking appropriate action to insure that no further
elections are conducted under the invalid plan. However, under
certain circumstances, such as where an impending election is
imminent and a Stateas election machinery is already in progress,
equitable considerations might justify a court in withholding the
granting of immediately effective relief in a legislative apportionment
case, even though the existing apportionment scheme was found
invalid. In awarding or withholding immediate relief, a court is
entitled to and should consider the proximity of a forthcoming
election and the mechanics and complexities of state election laws,
and should act and rely upon general equitable principles.
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377 U.S. 533, 585 (1964); see also Purcell v. Gonzalez, 549 U.S. 1, 4a5 (2006)
(holding that courts are arequired to weigh, in addition to the harms attendant
upon issuance or nonissuance of an injunction, considerations specific to election
cases and its own institutional proceduresa).
Considering the totality of the evidence and affidavits presented at this
juncture, the Court finds with a measure of true caution that Plaintiffs are likely to
satisfy the first element for a preliminary injunction a a likelihood of success on
the merits a for at least some of their claims. The Courtas caution is that though
the parties have filed endless briefs on Defendantsa multiple motions to dismiss
and amended complaints, largely due to Plaintiffsa changes in counsel, the case did
not move substantively forward until the motions for preliminary injunction were
filed in August 2018. The subject matter in this suit is complex, even if wellpresented, and there is still key information that needs to be gathered. For
instance, the voting system and data handling deficiencies in one county, Fulton
County, could possibly impact all other counties in the state. The State also never
called the Chief Information Officer for the Secretary of Stateas Office to testify, and
substantive answers from other state officials were limited by their lack of
computer science expertise and apparent knowledge. In short, the case would
benefit from some discovery and a full evidentiary hearing on the merits over
several days.

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That said, the Supreme Court has held that a[i]t is beyond cavil that voting
is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.a
Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 433 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Court goes on to recognize that a[i]t does not follow [] that the right to vote in
any manner and the right to associate for political purposes through the ballot are
absolute.a Id. Thus, courts apply a more flexible standard in this context:
A court considering a challenge to a state election law must weigh the
character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected
by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the plaintiff seeks to
vindicate against the precise interests put forward by the State as
justifications for the burden imposed by its rule, taking into
consideration the extent to which those interests make it necessary to
burden the plaintiffas rights. . . . Under this standard, the rigorousness
of our inquiry into the propriety of a state election law depends upon
the extent to which a challenged regulation burdens First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. Thus, as we have recognized when
those rights are subjected to severe restrictions, the regulation must
be narrowly drawn to advance a state interest of compelling
importance. . . . But when a state election law provision imposes only
reasonable, nondiscriminatory restrictions upon the First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters, the Stateas important
regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify the restrictions.
Id. at 434 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, Plaintiffs have shown that their Fourteenth Amendment rights to Due
Process and Equal Protection have been burdened. Put differently, the Stateas
continued reliance on the use of DRE machines in public elections likely results in
aa debasement or dilution of the weight of [Plaintiffsa] vote[s],a even if such
conduct does not completely deny Plaintiffs the right to vote. Bush v. Gore, 531
U.S. 98, 105 (2000) (quoting Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 555).

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Plaintiffs shine a spotlight on the serious security flaws and vulnerabilities
in the Stateas DRE system a including unverifiable election results, outdated
software susceptible to malware and viruses, and a central server that was already
hacked multiple times. Mirroring the truncated affidavit statement of Merritt
Beaver, the Chief Information Officer in the Office of the Secretary of State, the
State Defendantsa response brief merely states, without more, that the central
server is no longer an issue because the way Kennesaw State University maintained
the system ais not the way that those tasks are undertaken now.a (See Response,
Doc. 265 at 22; Beaver Affidavit, Doc. 265-1.) The Defendants presented no
witness with actual computer science engineering and forensic expertise at the
preliminary injunction hearing to address the impact of the Kennesaw State
University breach or the specifics of any forensic evaluation of the servers, DREs,
removable media used for transfer of data, analog phone modems, and other
connected devices that together constitute the election system. The Defendantsa
response brief is close to non-responsive to the concerns that Plaintiffs raise about
the serious vulnerability of the server and the election data system at large to
intrusion, virus, or attack. Defendantsa response is bare-boned in the absence of
evidence of installation of updates to software or equipment or evidence of
statewide software and hardware scrubbing a after at least one or more portions
of the database system operated by Kennesaw State University was left accessible
for at least six months. In fact, Defendants presented scant evidence to rebut
Plaintiffsa expert evidence regarding Georgiaas persistent failure to update or
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replace software systems, despite security flaws identified by the software
industry.25
Michael Barnes, the Director of the CES at Kennesaw State University,26 was
the sole staff member at the CES to move over to the State when the Centeras
functions were taken over by the Secretary of Stateas office. He in turn became the
Centeras Director once this transfer occurred. The State presented his testimony
at trial. Mr. Barnes professed effectively no knowledge about the ramifications for
the stateas voter system or remedial measures in connection with Mr. Lambas
accessing the CESas voter registration databases a which was filled with millions of
voter records with personally identifiable information, passwords for election day
supervisors, and the software used to create ballot definitions, memory cards, and
vote tabulations. Mr. Barnes also appeared not to recognize the full scope of the
contamination risks posed by his own use of a plug-in USB drive (which he
connects both to the central GEMS aair-gappeda server and his own apublic facinga
computer that is connected to the Internet) to transfer vital elections programming
data to the counties. Mr. Barnes similarly did not appear to recognize the risks
associated with the use of analog phone connections for the transfers of election
results.

Indeed, after Fulton County experienced a meltdown in the tabulation of the vote in the primary
for the Sixth Congressional District in 2017, Richard Barron, the Director of Registration and
Elections for Fulton County, vocally expressed his view that the software system of 2000 vintage
should be investigated and should have been replaced. (Pl. Ex. 9, Preliminary Injunction
Hearing.)
26 Mr. Barnese is not a computer scientist.
25

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As discussed earlier, the Curling Plaintiffsa voting-systems cybersecurity
expert, Alex Halderman, demonstrated at the hearing how malware could be
introduced into a DRE machine via a memory card and actually change an electoras
vote without anyone knowing. (See also DeMillo Affidavit, Doc. 277 Ex. C; Buell
Affidavit, Doc. 260-3; Bernhard Affidavit, Doc. 258-1 at 33-42.) Additionally,
Professor Halderman explained in his testimony in detail the reasons why the DRE
auditing and confirmation of results process used by state officials on a sample
basis is generally of limited value. This process is keyed to matching the total
ballots cast, without any independent source of individual ballot validation, and it
can be defeated by malware similar to that used by the Volkswagen emissions
software that concealed a caras actual emissions data during testing. (Halderman
testimony at hearing; Halderman Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 APAP 35-48; see also DeMillo
Affidavit, Doc. 277, Ex. C APAP 10-20.) Further, parallel testing of DREs is of limited
value. aIf the testing reveals, at the close of the election, that the machines were
counting incorrectly, there will likely be no way to recover the true results, since
the machines used in Georgia have no paper backup records.a

(Halderman

Affidavit, Doc. 260-2 AP 41.)
Plaintiffs also emphasize current cybersecurity developments regarding
election security and the heightened, legitimized concerns of election interference.
Contrary to Defendantsa assertions, Plaintiffsa claims do not boil down to paranoia
or hypothetical fear. National security experts and cybersecurity experts at the
highest levels of our nationas government and institutions have weighed in on the
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specific issue of DRE systems in upcoming elections and found them to be highly
vulnerable to interference, particularly in the absence of any paper ballot audit
trail.27 Indeed, the evidence and testimony presented conforms with the patterns
of heightened cybersecurity breach and data manipulation attacks now regularly
appearing in civil financial cases as well as criminal cases. 28
Defendants assert that the state election laws at issue are anarrowly drawn
to effect the Stateas regulatory interest in maintaining fair, honest and efficient
elections.a

(Response, Doc. 265 at 15.)

This conclusory re-statement of an

overarching principle of Fourteenth Amendment voting jurisprudence29 does not
by itself answer the issues before the Court. However, the Court recognizes the
important policy changes and objectives achieved by the Stateas adoption via the
Secretary of Stateas Office of the statewide integrated DRE voting system in
approximately 2002. But the DRE system also originally was intended to include
the capacity for an independent paper audit trail of every ballot cast, and this
feature was never effectuated. (Report of the 21st Century Voting Commission, Pl.
Ex. 10 at 38, introduced at Preliminary Injunction hearing; testimony of Cathy
Cox.)

The PowerPoint presentation of Dr. Wenke Lee, the sole cybersecurity scientist serving on the
Secretary of Stateas new SAFE Commission, identifies similar overarching risks and solutions,
including paper ballots as durable evidence of election results. (Pl. Ex. 5 at Preliminary Injunction
Hearing.)
28 But in contrast to the circumstances where there is no independent vote audit trail, when money
is stolen through cybercrime, ultimately the theft is clearly obvious a the funds are gone.
29 See Burdick, 504 U.S. at 433.
27

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As the Court noted at the preliminary injunction hearing, rapidly evolving
cybertechnology changes and challenges have altered the reality now facing
electoral voting systems and Georgiaas system in particular. And it is this reality
that Plaintiffs substantiated with expert affidavits and testimony as well as an array
of voter affidavits and documentation. Defendants sidestep the fact that Georgia
is only one of five states that rely on a DRE voting process that generates no
independent paper ballot or audit record. Yet the Plaintiffsa evidence as to the
problems of security, accuracy, reliability, and currency of Georgiaas system and
software have hardly been rebutted by Defendants except via characterizations of
the issues raised as entirely hypothetical and baseless. Ultimately, an electoral
system must be accurate and trustworthy. The Stateas apparent asserted interest
in maintaining the DRE system without significant change cannot by itself justify
the burden and risks imposed given the circumstances presented. Burdick, 504
U.S. at 434.
Plaintiffs are substantially likely to succeed on the merits of one or more of
their constitutional claims, though this finding is a cautious, preliminary one,
especially in light of the initial state of the record. Plaintiffs have so far shown that
the DRE system, as implemented, poses a concrete risk of alteration of ballot
counts that would impact their own votes. Their evidence relates directly to the
manner in which Defendantsa alleged mode of implementation of the DRE voting
system deprives them or puts them at imminent risk of deprivation of their
fundamental right to cast an effective vote (i.e., a vote that is accurately counted).
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United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299, 315 (1941); Stewart, 444 F.3d at 868.
Plaintiffsa evidence also goes to the concern that when they vote by DRE, their vote
is in jeopardy of being counted less accurately and thus given less weight than a
paper ballot.30 As the Supreme Court held in Bush v. Gore:
The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the
franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its
exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the
State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one
personas vote over that of another. . . . It must be remembered that
athe right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the
weight of a citizenas vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the
free exercise of the franchise.a
531 U.S. 98, 104-05 (2000) (internal citations omitted).
The Defendants rely on Wexler v. Anderson, 452 F.3d 1226 (11th Cir. 2006)
in maintaining that Plaintiffs cannot establish the viability of their Fourteenth
Amendment claims described above. But Wexler and this case are distinguishable.
The Eleventh Circuit noted that the Wexler plaintiffs adid not plead that voters in
touchscreen counties are less likely to cast effective votes due to the alleged lack of
a meaningful manual recount procedure in those counties,a and therefore their
aburden is the mere possibility that should they cast residual ballots, those ballots
will receive a different, and allegedly inferior, type of review in the event of a
manual recount.a Id. at 1226. Wexler distinguishes this situation from the one in

Plaintiffs allege other theories under these constitutional claims, including that their right to
cast a secret ballot is violated and that they must incur greater costs to cast an absentee ballot if
they choose to avoid voting by DRE. Plaintiffs may be less likely to prevail on these theories,
though the Court will not reach that conclusion now, especially given the incomplete status of the
evidentiary record.
30

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Stewart v. Blackwell, 444 F.3d at 868-72, where strict scrutiny was applied based
on the plaintiffsa allegations of avote dilution due to disparate use of certain voting
technologies.a 444 F.3d at 871. Thus, in contrast with Stewart, the Eleventh
Circuit in Wexler did not apply strict scrutiny and instead reviewed aFloridaas
manual recount procedures to determine if they are justified by the Stateas
aimportant regulatory interests.aa Wexler, 452 F.3d at 1233 (citing Burdick, 504
U.S. at 434)).
Here, Plaintiffs appear to present facts that fall somewhere between Wexler
and Stewart. Unlike Wexler, Plaintiffs are alleging that they are less likely to be
able to cast accurate or effective ballots when voting by DRE. The evidence here is
not as well developed as that in Stewart, which was decided on a fully factually
developed summary judgment record. Still, Plaintiffs in this case have presented
sufficient evidence so far that their votes cast by DRE may be altered, diluted, or
effectively not counted on the same terms as someone using another voting method
a or that there is a serious risk of this under the circumstances.
Turning to the second element for a preliminary injunction, the Court also
finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a real risk of suffering irreparable injury
without court intervention. This analysis to some extent parallels the ainjury in
facta standing analysis above. Absent an injunction, there is a threat that Plaintiffsa
votes in the upcoming elections will not be accurately counted. Given the absence
of an independent paper audit trail of the vote, the scope of this threat is difficult

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to quantify, though even a minor alteration of votes in close electoral races can
make a material difference in the outcome.
Finally, the Court considers together the last two factors in evaluating
whether preliminary injunctive relief should be granted: whether the threatened
injury to the movant outweighs whatever damage the proposed injunction may
cause the opposing party; and, if issued, whether the injunction would not be
adverse to the public interest. The Court considers these factors in tandem, as the
real question posed in this context is how injunctive relief at this eleventh-hour
would impact the public interest in an orderly and fair election, with the fullest
voter participation possible and an accurate count of the ballots cast.
This assessment involves a true catch-22.
While Plaintiffs have shown the threat of real harms to their constitutional
interests, the eleventh-hour timing of their motions and an instant grant of the
paper ballot relief requested could just as readily jeopardize the upcoming
elections, voter turnout, and the orderly administration of the election.
Defendants introduced substantial evidence from Elections Directors from
counties with major populations (e.g., Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee, and
Richmond Counties) regarding the fiscal, organizational, and practical
impediments and burdens associated with a court order that would require
immediate implementation of paper ballot and ballot scanning voting systems for
the 2018 election cycle.

(See Testimony of Richard Barron at Preliminary

Injunction Hearing; Doc. 265-3; Doc. 265-6.) Various representatives of the
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Secretary of Stateas office provided testimony regarding similar organizational and
fiscal challenges.

Some of these concerns, such as authority for emergency

purchase orders of ballot paper or scanners, clearly are resolvable based on
emergency purchase provisions under state and local law. The Courtas greater
concern, in considering the evidence, is that the massive scrambling required to
implement such injunctive relief in roughly 2,600 precincts and 159 countries will
seriously test the organizational capacity of the personnel handling the election, to
the detriment of Georgia voters.
Plaintiffs have submitted evidence from various jurisdictions in other states
of their ability to smoothly roll out a paper ballot/optical scanning system in an
expedited time frame as well an affidavit from the administrator overseeing
Marylandas transition over an expedited, but still far longer, time frame. The
challenges presented in these jurisdictions are not comparable to managing a rapid
implementation of a balloting system, associated technology, and administrative
transition in less than seven weeks on a statewide basis in large population centers
as well as tiny ones simultaneously. Nor is it likely simple to roll out a paper ballot
system with proper, efficient scanning, when many polling station personnel
throughout the state have never handled this scope of a paper ballot exercise a or
used accompanying scanners on a massive basis.
Further, early elections begin mid-October. This poses an even earlier
deadline for action and organization. Fulton Countyas Elections Director testified
that the County would only be able to cope with the challenges of an immediate
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ballot requirement by limiting early voting to one central location, rather than
offering it at 20 locations spread throughout the county. This, of course, would
likely directly impact voter turnout and access to voting.
Ultimately, any chaos or problems that arise in connection with a sudden
rollout of a paper ballot system with accompanying scanning equipment may
swamp the polls with work and voters a and result in voter frustration and
disaffection from the voting process. There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion
and long lines to sour a citizen. And that description does not even touch on
whether voters themselves, many of whom may never have cast a paper ballot
before, will have been provided reasonable materials to prepare them for properly
executing the paper ballots.
The Court attempted to expedite this case at earlier times to no avail. The
Court understands some of the reasons why Plaintiffs may have been unable to file
a preliminary injunction motion before new counsel for the Coalition Plaintiffs
filed a Third Amended Complaint in June 2018. But the August filing of their
motion for preliminary injunction effectively put the squeeze on their proposed
remedial relief. Requiring injunctive relief on this broad of a scale, and on an
abrupt, time-limited basis, would likely undermine a paper ballot initiative with a
scanned audit trail that appears in reality to be critically needed.
Meanwhile, the State Defendants have also stood by for far too long, given
the mounting tide of evidence of the inadequacy and security risks of Georgiaas
DRE voting system and software. The Court is gravely concerned about the Stateas
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pace in responding to the serious vulnerabilities of its voting system a which were
raised as early as 2016 a while aging software arrangements, hardware, and other
deficiencies were evident still earlier. The Secretary of Stateas Secure, Accessible,
& Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission has held just two meetings since its
establishment in April 2018, though it is tasked with making recommendations to
the legislature that convenes in January 2019.

The State and the Countyas

arguments about the time and resource constraints at issue, in the event the Court
granted the requested injunctive relief, are compelling right now, with the
November election just weeks away. But these arguments only weaken the more
that time passes and if Defendants continue to move in slow motion or take
ineffective or no action. For upcoming elections after November 2018, Defendants
are forewarned that these same arguments would hold much less sway in the future
a as any timing issues then would appear to be exclusively of Defendantsa own
making at that point.
Upon considering the totality of the evidence in connection with the four
factors that must guide the Courtas determination regarding the grant of
extraordinary relief as to Plaintiffsa constitutional claims, the Court finds that the
Plaintiffs have not carried their burden of persuasion to establish these
prerequisites for such extraordinary injunctive relief in the immediate 2018
election time frame ahead.

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V.

Conclusion
While Plaintiffsa motions for preliminary injunction [Docs. 258, 260, 271]

are DENIED, the Court advises the Defendants that further delay is not tolerable
in their confronting and tackling the challenges before the Stateas election balloting
system. The Stateas posture in this litigation a and some of the testimony and
evidence presented a indicated that the Defendants and State election officials had
buried their heads in the sand. This is particularly so in their dealing with the
ramifications of the major data breach and vulnerability at the Center for Election
Services, which contracted with the Secretary of Stateas Office, as well as the
erasure of the Centeras server database and a host of serious security vulnerabilities
permitted by their outdated software and system operations.
A wound or reasonably threatened wound to the integrity of a stateas election
system carries grave consequences beyond the results in any specific election, as it
pierces citizensa confidence in the electoral system and the value of voting.
Advanced persistent threats in this data-driven world and ordinary hacking
are unfortunately here to stay. Defendants will fail to address that reality if they
demean as paranoia the research-based findings of national cybersecurity
engineers and experts in the field of elections.

Nor will surface-level audit

procedures address this reality when viruses and malware alter data results and
evade or suppress detection. The parties have strongly intimated that this case is
headed for immediate appeal. But if the case stays with or comes back to this
Court, the Court will insist on further proceedings moving on an expedited
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schedule. The 2020 elections are around the corner. If a new balloting system is
to be launched in Georgia in an effective manner, it should address democracyas
critical need for transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that
guarantee each citizenas fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 17th day of September, 2018.

_____________________________
Amy Totenberg
United States District Judge

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